Category Archives: Democracy

By-election disaster for Tories in Yorkshire and Devon as Johnson becomes ballot box poison

All his own fault: but will Boris Johnson take responsibility for his party’s losses or will he try to palm it off onto somebody else, as usual?

The Conservative Party has imploded in two by-elections as local electorates delivered a devastating verdict on Boris Johnson’s corrupt government.

The results in Wakefield (Yorkshire), and Tiverton and Honiton in Devon follow dire local election results in May.

All are being seen as a response to the revelations of rampant law-breaking in Downing Street during the Covid-19 lockdown, on Boris Johnson’s watch – and on other decisions he has made that appear to fly against the Ministerial Code.

In Wakefield, Labour’s Simon Lightwood overturned a Tory majority of 3,358 in the 2019 general election to gain a majority of 4,925 on a much lower turnout of 39.46 per cent of the electorate.

But in Tiverton and Honiton, a former Tory stronghold, Liberal Democrat Richard Foord smashed a Conservative majority of 24,239 to gain a majority of his own totalling 6,144. Turnout was much higher, at 52.16 per cent.

Johnson has buried his head in the sand. He has said he will “listen” to voters but intends to “keep going”, no matter what.

But he may not get the chance because panic is spreading through his party like wildfire.

And it is a party with no chairman after Oliver Dowden quit with a letter he sent to Johnson at 5.35am. As BBC political editor Chris Mason put it: “Nothing reeks of panic quite like a resignation letter at 5.35am.”

And the words of the letter are damning. Dowden did not voice any support at all for Johnson.

Instead, he stated: “Yesterday’s Parliamentary by-elections are the latest in a run of very poor results for our party. Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings.”

He is distressed and disappointed by the Conservative Party’s election results under Johnson.

“We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility” – but even though Dowden was resigning, he did not say that it should be him. The implication is clear: he thinks Johnson should quit as well.

Dowden went on to pay tribute – not to Johnson’s leadership but to “our excellent Conservative volunteers and staffers who work so tirelessly for our cause”.

He continued: “They are the backbone of our great party and deserve better than this.” This being Johnson, one can only conclude.

Dowden himself concluded with these words: “I will, as always, remain loyal to the Conservative Party.” But not to Johnson?

The meaning is clear: Boris Johnson is now ballot box poison and should make way for somebody new.

In Chris Mason’s early-morning comment for the BBC, the pundit states that: “Conservative MPs from the top down have the jitters this morning; the dawn decision of their former chairman quickening their pulse further.”

Yes indeed. The Treasurer of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs has put his head above the parapet to say that, after hearing what Johnson has to say for himself, he and his colleagues will be making “some very difficult decisions”.

He said the by-election losses were a “very serious and large defeat in two completely different areas of the country” and members of the Conservative Party need to “think very carefully about the future and how we’re going to remedy the situation” so they stand the best possible chance of winning the next election.

Is that a coded suggestion that the “best possible chance” of winning the next election is the removal of a leader who has proved himself to be a liability?

Also on the minds of Tory MPs – especially in the South West – will be the words of Tiverton and Honiton’s new Liberal Democrat representative, Richard Foord, who demanded that Boris Johnson must “go – and go now”.

He said: “For those Conservative MPs propping up this failing prime minister… If you don’t take action to restore decency, respect and British values to Downing Street, you too will face election defeats.”

The figures suggest he’s not wrong. “Elections guru” Sir John Curtice has said that, adding in the results of the other three by-elections held over the last year, the Conservative vote is an average of 20 percentage points behind its position in 2019.

The last government struggling that badly was John Major’s – and he led it to a landslide defeat in 1997.

If he remains as prime minister, Johnson may well do the same – but only if his fellow MPs let him. Is it time for a visit from the men in grey suits?

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Wakefield/Tiverton and Honiton: never mind the weather – GET OUT AND VOTE!

Why does the weather play such a crucial role in whether people bother to vote or not?

Having taken part in many elections, This Writer still has no idea.

But it is significant that a BBC report on the by-elections at Wakefield in Yorkshire and Tiverton and Honiton in Devon contained the following: “The weather is set to be warm and sunny in Wakefield, while the forecast is for a bright start followed by sunshine and showers in Honiton and Tiverton.”

The reason it makes a difference is that the Conservatives are always more likely to win in bad weather, because they regiment their voters into going out and supporting them, no matter what.

Labour voters (for example and by contrast) tend to stay at home and watch the soap operas if it’s a bit damp.

The good weather today (June 23) suggests that the Tories will get the drubbing in both constituencies that they deserve for continuing to support Boris Johnson despite his many corruptions.

Let’s hope so, eh? Because election results are the only polls that Tories really bother to notice.

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After winning Tory vote, Boris Johnson vows to go straight – back to his bad old ways

Spite: instead of accepting responsibility for his failings and promising to do better, Boris Johnson is planning to suppress the rebels who humiliated him in a confidence vote.

He hasn’t learned anything at all from it and he certainly isn’t going to change.

Instead, Boris Johnson has told his Cabinet that they must suppress the row about his leadership after 41 per cent of his MPs said they had no confidence in him after the Partygate scandal.

The appropriate response would have been to accept that he had damaged his own image, to listen to criticisms and to change his behaviour – but Johnson was never going to do that.

He would have taken a single vote over the 50 per cent winning line as a glowing endorsement of his loutishness, and that is why – with only an extra 31 votes beyond that line – he has chosen to act exactly as he did before.

There will be no further reform to stop the rot in Downing Street and standards in Parliament will continue to decay under his diseased hand.

His sole response has been to tell Cabinet ministers to “draw a line” under the leadership row and get on with dealing with what he says people want.

So idiots like Dominic Raab have been going out to the media, saying there is no credible alternative to Boris Johnson’s leadership – which is grimly hilarious.

“There Is No Alternative” was a catchphrase of David Cameron’s government, that inflicted austerity on the UK – an austerity that still afflicts the country, by the way; none of his and George Osborne’s changes have been repealed.

In fact, of course, there were credible alternatives to the “Starve the Beast” economic policy that put the UK on its back during those bad days – and Osborne’s period as Chancellor is rightly derided by many economists.

And the Tory rebels haven’t gone away. After winning a larger proportion of the vote – from a larger Parliamentary contingent – than voted against Theresa May in 2018 (who, as everyone and their dog told us repeatedly yesterday, was out within six months of her own confidence vote), they are now agitating to change the 1922 Committee’s rules so that another confidence vote may happen sooner than in a year’s time.

In Parliament itself, the Liberal Democrats are tabling their own “no confidence” vote that would allow MPs from all parties a chance to vote on Johnson’s future as prime minister – but this is only likely to go forward if Labour gets behind it, and Keir Starmer is sitting on the fence again.

Starmer may see a tactical advantage in leaving Johnson where he is; Labour may win a general election against a prime minister who has been weakened by a confidence vote and by whatever failings he inflicts on the UK in the future (his new version of ‘right to buy’ will be one such disaster).

But of course the public is able to see such manoeuvrings for what they are: cynical politicking that ignores the good of the nation. How could we vote for the person behind it?

Looking further ahead, Johnson will face the humiliation of the expected by-election losses on June 23.

And then he will face investigation by a Parliamentary committee charged with ruling on whether he broke the Ministerial Code. If the finding goes against him, he’ll have to resign anyway.

And after his anti-corruption champion resigned yesterday, saying that this was because Johnson broke the Ministerial Code, it seems that result is already locked in.

Boris Johnson is on borrowed time and the best he can do now is try to salvage what little is left of his good name before slinking back into history’s shadows.

And he’s the only one who doesn’t seem to know it.

Johnson wanted us to think he was another Churchill. But he turned out to be more like Lord Haw-Haw.

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Boris Johnson wins ‘no confidence’ vote. What now?

Boris Johnson has won/lost a vote of ‘no confidence’ in his leadership of the Conservative Party – and of the Conservative government – but it’s not really enough.

The vote was split between 211 for the prime minister and 148 against. That’s just 31 more people for him than the number needed to gain a victory.

It is a much worse performance than Theresa May’s in 2018 – and she lasted just six months afterwards.

Where she won 63 per cent of the vote, Johnson could only scrape up 59 per cent.

The prime minister’s position will still be uncertain, going into the future. He’ll be asked to change his ways to a huge extent – and it is not certain that he is even capable of doing so.

And there’s the question of his breaking the Ministerial Code; the government’s anti-corruption champion has resigned, saying that Johnson was guilty of a breach that means he should resign too. A committee of MPs is set to examine whether he breached the Code over the next few months – and may compel him to resign as prime minister if they find against him.

The vote has also generated a huge amount of enmity between Conservative MPs.

BBC Newsnight’s political editor Nicholas Watt says supporters of Boris Johnson were intensely angry.

He reported that one ally of Johnson said his colleagues were “lying snakes” while another strong supporter said he could “throttle” those MPs who “want to hand our country to a coalition of Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats”.

That’s not going to happen any time soon; the huge Tory majority in Parliament remains.

But no matter what the result, a shadow is hanging over the Conservative Party – and the Conservative government – and is likely to remain until the next general election at least.

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‘Excoriating’ memo damns Boris Johnson ahead of ‘no confidence’ vote

Oh dear: has Boris Johnson seen the memo attacking him on Tory WhatsApp groups?

A memo entitled ‘Conservative leadership’ and shredding Boris Johnson’s record is allegedly spreading like wildfire among Tory MPs ahead of a ‘no confidence’ vote in the PM’s leadership.

Written by an anonymous Conservative MP, the 758-word document has been spreading on Tory WhatsApp groups.

It states that the man once dubbed “Big Dog” is “no longer an electoral asset”.

The Telegraph obtained a copy and published some of the contents:

Citing a survey suggesting that 27 per cent of Tory voters think the Prime Minister should resign, the memo read: “The booing of Boris Johnson at the Jubilee Thanksgiving service tells us nothing that data does not. There is no social group that trusts him, with even 55 per cent of current Conservatives calling him untrustworthy, against only 25 per cent saying he is trustworthy.”

The so-called “greased pig” was slipping – even in the minds of patriots, it seemed.

The damning memo predicted: “If left in post, will lead the Party to a substantial defeat in 2024. He will lose Red Wall seats (with majorities under 10,000) to Labour, and Blue Wall seats (majorities up to 20,000) to the Liberal Democrats.

“At least 160 MPs are at risk (all majorities under 10k, and LD-facing majorities under 20k). Furthermore, tactical voting, so devastating in 1997, is returning and could turn a defeat into a landslide.”

Arguing that ‘partygate’ represented “a major breach of trust with the British population, including 2019 Conservatives, many of whom have abandoned the party already”, it questioned Mr Johnson’s ability to win trust back, pointing out that a forthcoming investigation by the Privileges Committee could still prove damning.

“The entire purpose of the Government now appears to be the sustenance of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister,” it added, pointing out that “MPs are having to defend the indefensible, not for the sake of the party, but for one man”.

It also made the point that Mr Johnson “is the only Minister given negative ratings by activists in the ConHome ratings, meaning he is dragging everyone else down”.

The memo reached the stark conclusion: “The only way to end this misery, earn a hearing from the British public, and restore Conservative fortunes to a point where we can win the next General Election, is to remove Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.”

Source: The excoriating memo spreading like wildfire on Tory WhatsApp groups that damned Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson’s anti-corruption champion quits – calls on PM to resign

John Penrose: when the Anti-Corruption Champion resigns because of the behaviour of the prime minister, it can only mean that he has found the PM to be corrupt.

Is this the killing blow against Boris Johnson?

The government’s anti-corruption champion has resigned, saying it is clear that Johnson has broken the Ministerial Code and the only honourable choice for the PM is to step down as well.

John Penrose, MP for Weston-Super-Mare, has himself suffered criticism related to corruption because he is married to Dido Harding who – as the person in charge of the government’s disastrous ‘test and trace’ strategy – wasted £37 billion of public money on a system that did not work at all.

But he has salvaged his reputation today by making it clear that he considers Boris Johnson to be unfit to lead the Conservative Party or the country – and that his reason for believing this is corruption.

In a letter to Johnson, published on Twitter, he stated: “It wouldn’t be honourable or right for me to remain as your Anti-Corruption Champion… nor for you to remain as Prime Minister either.”

He wrote: “My reason for stepping down is your public letter last week, replying to your independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code about the recent Sue Gray Report into ‘partygate’.

“In it you addressed the concerns over the Fixed Penalty Notice you paid, but not the broader and very serious criticisms of what the Report called ‘failures of leadership and judgment’ and its conclusion that ‘senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture’.

“You will know (and your letter to your Adviser on the Ministerial Code explicitly says) that the Nolan Principles of Public Life are absolutely central to the Ministerial Code, and that the seventh of them is ‘Leadership’.

“So the only fair conclusion to draw from the Sue Gray Report is that you have breached a fundamental principle of the Ministerial Code – a clear resigning matter.

“But your letter to your independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code ignores this absolutely central, non-negotiable issue completely. And, if it had addressed it, it is hard to see how it could have reached any other conclusion than that you had broken the code.”

Mr Penrose listed some of what he considered to be Johnson’s achievements, but then stated: “I hope you will understand that none of these can excuse or justify a fundamental breach of the Ministerial Code. As a result, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be honourable or right for me to remain as your Anti-Corruption Champion after reaching this conclusion, nor for you to remain as Prime Minister either.

“I hope you will now stand aside so we can look to the future and choose your successor.”

Damning words.

They make it clear that the government’s Anti-Corruption Chief considered Johnson to be corrupt according to the rules.

And they state that the prime minister should resign ahead of today’s vote on his future. Staying on to await the result of a ballot would be dishonourable and wrong.

Johnson now sits on the horns of a dilemma. Should he resign now, on Penrose’s advice? Or should he try to brazen it out and tempt the wrath of backbenchers incensed at being asked to support somebody who is dishonourable and corrupt?

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D-Day for Boris Johnson as he faces ‘no confidence’ vote TODAY

Boris Johnson: we all think it’s time for him to go – but will Tory backbenchers have the courage to remove him?

Plans by the Tory leadership to shore up Boris Johnson’s popularity among backbenchers with a series of policy announcements have been foiled after it was revealed that a vote of “no confidence” in the prime minister has already been triggered.

Supporters of Johnson in the Cabinet spent last week – while Parliament was in recess – saying there was not enough support for a vote, then did a sharp u-turn last night to admit that one may happen later this week if enough letters arrive with 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady.

But this morning (Monday, June 6), Sir Graham announced that he has already received more than enough letters to trigger a vote and it will happen between 6pm and 8pm today:

From what he said, it seemed that Johnson would have an opportunity to speak to Tory backbenchers this afternoon, before the vote takes place – and this has since been confirmed; he’ll make a speech at them, starting at 4pm.

According to the BBC, a spokesperson at 10 Downing Street has said he “welcomes the opportunity to make his case to MPs”, and that tonight’s vote is “a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on”.

Whichever way the vote goes, that will be true – meaning the government may find itself moving on without its current leader.

Boris Johnson’s team has already sent a message to all the party’s MPs, laying down a series of reasons for them to support him – and they are nonsense.

The document says the government wants to concentrate on the war in Ukraine – in which the UK is not even a participant – and on the cost-of-living crisis at home – that Johnson’s government created.

Judging by his recent record, it seems clear that the current prime minister can only make these matters worse.

The document says Johnson intends to reduce crime – hardly a credible pledge from a PM who has recently been fined for committing a crime, reducing taxes – an incredible claim from the leader who has increased the tax burden on us by more than any other in the last 40 years at least, and cutting NHS waiting times – that Johnson increased exponentially by failing to support the health service properly during the Covid-19 crisis.

On Covid itself, the document claims Johnson dealt with the “biggest peacetime crisis in a generation” with a rapid vaccines rollout and “unprecedented” help for workers and businesses – but we know that he spaffed billions on contracts with fake companies run by crony Conservatives, while starving the NHS of resources, causing the deaths of nearly 200,000 UK citizens who would have been alive today if the country had had a competent leader.

And it says if a full leadership contest is triggered, it will lead to “civil war” in the party, benefiting the Labour opposition – and again, this is not true. The leadership contest that elected Johnson himself was run in an orderly manner over a short period of time and Labour did not enjoy a boost (although this may have been because turncoats in that party were deliberately trying to hinder then-leader Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of success).

“Under Boris Johnson’s leadership”, the document states, “we secured the biggest Conservative majority since 1987”. That’s right – because Johnson falsely presented himself as a man of the people. He has since been proved to be out-of-touch with the rest of us and interested only in furthering his own personal ambitions rather than serving the UK.

“We got Brexit done,” the document states, as if shrinking the economy by four per cent, creating huge customs backlogs at our borders, creating an inflationary spiral due to huge goods supply problems and dragging Northern Ireland back towards the bad days of the “Troubles” is an achievement.

“We unlocked more rapidly [after Covid] and restored our freedoms more quickly than other countries” it continues, neglecting to mention that Johnson tried to pull the UK out of lockdown too soon, thereby triggering a huge spike in infections over the winter of 2020-21 that caused tens of thousands more excess deaths than needed to take place.

“We are standing up to Putin, arming Ukraine with huge military support” – that has focused the Russian dictator’s eye on the UK with a view to taking military action against us. Any such action would be like one of us swatting a fly as Russia outguns the UK massively – “and humanitarian help” that is only just beginning to be felt after Tory claims to be the first to provide such help were proven to be false.

“We are delivering cost of living help” after being shamed into a u-turn over a windfall tax on profiteering energy firms to provide the funding for it.

“Boris Johnson has an unmatched electoral record – and he will win again,” the document states at a time when the Tories are living in the shadow of two expected by-election defeats later this month.

The document also states that the controversy over his law-breaking and lying to Parliament is no more than a “distraction” when in fact it proves that he is crooked and corrupt.

Tory backbenchers are also being told that there is no potential leader in Parliament who would be able to take over – but that has already been contradicted by at least one senior member: Sir Roger Gale said he believed there were some “very good alternatives to the prime minister” within the party.

He said: “There is a list of people … Any single one of those people in my view would make a better prime minister than the one that we’ve got at the moment… I think we’re spoilt for choice.”

Another leading Tory, Andrew Bridgen, has said he will be voting against Johnson because the row over Boris Johnson breaching lockdown rules and allowing further breaches by his staff is likely to drag on. “I don’t think people are going to forgive and forget.

“It’s not normal for a Conservative PM to be booed outside St Paul’s Cathedral.”

He also criticised “intimidation within the party to suppress the letters” which triggered the no confidence ballot.

Johnson needs to win support from a majority of Conservative MPs in order to remain in 10 Downing Street – that’s 180 votes or more. At the time of writing, just 50 have declared support for him.

Even if he wins – securing a period of grace (as Sir Graham Brady described it) of one year in which no further ‘no confidence’ vote may be triggered against him, Johnson may still be ejected from Number 10 sooner.

Theresa May won a confidence vote easily in December 2018 – but six months later she was no longer prime minister.

Whatever happens later today, it seems clear that Boris Johnson’s remaining time in 10 Downing Street will be short. Perhaps his party should put us all out of our misery and end it now.

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Confidence vote in Boris Johnson may be inevitable – but when should it be?

Boris Johnson: what will it take to get him ousted from 10 Downing Street – and do Conservative backbenchers have the necessary qualities?

So much for Priti Patel’s claim that speculation about a confidence vote in Boris Johnson is a “sideshow”.

So much for Dominic Raab’s claim that such debate was just “Westminster talking to itself”.

Now government ministers are giving up their demand that such a vote simply will not happen and, in a major u-turn, they are accepting that it will.

The big question is: when?

According to the BBC,

Within government, some concede a vote could be triggered in the coming days “by accident” – not because of well organised rebellion from a section of the party, but because enough disparate groups of MPs are fed up enough to submit a no confidence letter.

One of the rebels admitted to the BBC the most likely outcome of a confidence vote this week was a victory for the prime minister – but that Tory MPs couldn’t sit on their hands any longer and wait for the next crisis before making a move.

Others think if a tipping point isn’t reached this week, the best opportunity for rebels could come later this month, after the result of two by-elections triggered by Tory MPs standing down from Parliament.

There is a realistic chance the Conservatives will lose both Wakefield (a previous red wall seat that Labour will want to win back) and Tiverton and Honiton (a previous Tory safe seat in Devon, where many believe the Liberal Democrats are on course for another coup).

If the prime minister was seen to be losing in both the north and the south of England, it would likely lead to more of his MPs concluding he is no longer an election winner who can keep them in power.

Johnson and his supporters are pulling out all the stops to win round the waverers.

In the coming week they will unveil plans to tackle the Covid-19-triggered NHS backlog – but this will just repeat a false claim that unpopular tax increases are being used to cut waiting lists.

And a major review into NHS management will propose an overhaul of NHS leadership structures to helping failing trusts replicate those that are performing best. Another advance for private health structures that benefit nobody but corporate shareholders?

Johnson is also set to launch new “right to buy” home ownership schemes, allowing people who rent from housing associations to buy those houses, for example. This will be a huge political own goal as the original “right to buy” policy championed by Margaret Thatcher created huge housing problems for the UK.

So the government, in trying to neutralise dissent, may in fact cause a larger rebellion with these short-sighted and ridiculous plans.

But This Writer reckons the time for a confidence vote will be after the Tories lose Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton on June 23.

Polling over the weekend has shown the Conservatives on course for a humiliating defeat in Wakefield, and it seems several MPs from the 2019 general election intake have said they will not submit a letter of “no confidence” until after such a result.

According to The Guardian,

“The red wall MPs who are wavering are looking only at Wakefield,” one MP said. “Only then will the penny drop that he is not actually popular at all.”

One minister said the residual loyalty to Johnson was now very thin even among his supporters. “Of course, stuff is going to catch up with him. He’s toast. Everyone is tired of the drama. The only question is whether he manages to get through the election and to be able to get a bit longer in No 10 before we get rid of him. We won’t stand this shit forever.”

One wonders what “shit” that MP is describing – the drama, or the prime minister creating it?

Either way, it seems the best bet is to wait until after the by-elections.

But then there’s the question of whether the vote will be triggered by accident, due to a lack of co-ordination by Tory rebels.

If he wins a “no confidence” vote, his own party will not be able to trigger another one for an entire year.

It seems tragically possible that Johnson could be allowed to continue wrecking the UK because of exactly the kind of incompetence for which he himself is justly infamous.

Source: Johnson prepares fightback as allies admit confidence vote now very likely

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It’s big, but neither ambitious nor impressive: Boris Johnson’s plan for new laws

On the attack: Boris Johnson has unveiled no fewer than 38 Bills and draft Bills that will clamp down hard on the people of the UK while denying any help to deal with the crises facing us.

Boris Johnson his revealed a plan for 38 new laws in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament, delivered in her absence by Prince Charles.

The Prince may have been mortified that it fell to him to report such a mess of half-baked ideas, attempts to dodge democracy, and above all failure to address the burning issues facing the people of the United Kingdom due to the incompetence of Johnson’s nearly three years as prime minister (and almost 12 years of Conservative failure in total).

There are no plans to address the cost-of-living crisis that is already crippling the ability of the poorest in society – millions of whom are already having to go without food on a regular basis – and threatening to harm millions more in the future as another increase in energy prices and wider-spread inflation hits families.

The government is putting forward an Energy Security Bill to “accelerate our transition to more secure, more affordable and cleaner homegrown energy supplies”. But this won’t help anybody for many years – and it includes an expansion of dirty nuclear energy that will make the UK a target for disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, and will fill the country with nuclear waste.

Johnson has claimed that his aim is to build a high-skills, high-pay economy, and that this will protect the population in the future. But he has been criticised for failing to draft an employment bill to protect workers’ rights, thereby leaving them open to exploitation.

On the other hand, there are plans to clamp down on political protest: the Public Order Bill would create a criminal offence, with a maximum sentence of 12 months, of “interfering with key national infrastructure” such as airports, railways and printing presses. This would also make it illegal to obstruct major transport works such as HS2.

Home Secretary Priti Patel says the changes are needed to deal with a “self-indulgent minority who seem to revel in causing mayhem and misery”. Doesn’t that more accurately describe the Conservative government of which she is a member?

And as part of what we’re told are seven Bills to capitalise on opportunities (if you can call them that) created by Brexit, a new Bill of Rights will show how Johnson intends to scrap your human rights and replace them with a series of privileges to be granted you by your Tory overlords, that may be changed whenever they feel like it. It has been suggested that this will not replace primary legislation, though.

A possibly-euphemistic Brexit Freedoms Bill will give the Tories power to change EU laws that were copied into the UK’s statute book after the country left the European Union – which should also ring alarm bells among members of the population who know that this signifies a removal, not expansion, of our freedoms.

Another Bill will set out the framework in which Nadine Dorries will be able to push through her undemocratic plan to privatise Channel 4 – after a government consultation found that 96 per cent of the population don’t want it to happen.

The list goes on and on – but most of the items on it are described in only vague terms. Many of them are plans to relegate certain forms of lawmaking to what’s known as “secondary legislation” – statutory instruments that are signed off by ministers rather than enjoying a democratic vote in Parliament. These may be seen as assaults on democracy and steps toward dictatorship.

You can spot these for yourself in the lists provided by news organisations, for example here, here and here.

Worst of all is the fact that this programme of attacks against you will continue, even if Boris Johnson is removed from power.

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.

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Test for democracy in Northern Ireland as Sinn Fein set to win most assembly seats

Northern Ireland will have a nationalist leader for the first time in its more-than-100-year history after last week’s local elections. But will the unionists accept it?

Ever since the power sharing agreement was set up that made the NI Assembly in Stormont possible, the leadership has been held by a Democratic Unionist Party representative.

In practise, the post is interchangeable with that of the deputy leader, but the role is also symbolic – and the unionists may decide they don’t like the symbol they’ll be asked to support.

This Writer has previously heard rumbles that suggest the unionists would abandon the power-sharing agreements if they can’t be the leaders; that would have serious consequences for the representation of democracy. How can an elected assembly be democratic if only one party can be allowed to take the leadership?

It seems those rumours are not set to become reality quite yet. But the unionists are demanding changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol that prevents a hard border between NI and the Republic of Ireland by keeping Northern Ireland inside the European Union’s (EU) single market for goods. It also creates a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The demand isn’t unreasonable; there should not be a hard trade border between one part of the United Kingdom and the others.

But it is a part of the agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland in 1998 that there should be no hard border between it and the Republic.

And the UK’s departure from the European Union means that a border where goods and people passing through are checked has to be placed somewhere, because the Republic is a member of that bloc.

It’s a problem that can’t be solved, it seems. Certainly the UK’s Tory government seems to have no intention of trying, with promoted-past-his-pay-grade Northern Ireland Secretary Damian Lewis hinting that there will be no plan to introduce new legislation on the protocol in the Queen’s Speech next week.

There may be leeway for discussion; new assembly members have until the end of 2024 to vote on whether to continue with the parts of the protocol that create an internal trade border within the UK.

One aspect of the change to a majority nationalist assembly that is unlikely to cause trouble – at least for now – is Sinn Fein’s aspiration to unite the Province with the Republic once again.

The law rules that the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary may only agree to hold a referendum on reunification if it seems a majority of people in the Province are likely to support that change – and that hasn’t happened yet.

The most recent opinion poll, published in April, puts support at around 33 per cent.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald has said planning for a unity referendum – also known as a border poll – would come within a five-year framework.

So it seems that, even if a way can be found to resolve problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, arguments are likely to break out over reunification.

It seems clear that Northern Ireland’s history will continue to be difficult for some time to come.

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.

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