Category Archives: Economy

Distraction tactics: why pay attention to all this right-wing fiddling while your country burns?

Jeremy Corbyn: it’s nice that a Twitter poll has rated him the best prime minister the UK never had, but the PM that we’ve got is turning the UK into a major disaster and this stuff is nothing more than an attempt to distract you. Did it work?

We all know bank holiday Mondays are where the news goes to die but August 2020 was particularly bad.

Judging by Twitter, the event that caught everybody’s imagination was a poll by right-wing Times Radio that resulted in a nobody presenter – This Writer has never heard of him – having to declare that Jeremy Corbyn is the best prime minister the UK never had.

(It means he would have been a better choice, not only than Boris Johnson or Theresa May, but better than many others as well – according to those who took part in the poll.)

Certain right-whingers immediately took it upon themselves to alleged – without any factual basis – that Corbynista Twitter users had ganged up to rig the poll.

Who cares?

It doesn’t matter. We didn’t get Corbyn. We got Theresa May in 2017 and Boris Johnson now – partly because Labour apparatchiks conspired to bugger up Corbyn’s campaigns on one or both occasions, if you believe a certain report (I do).

And it diverts attention from the failures of the government we have – especially at a time when Parliament is about to resume sitting after the summer recess.

The Guardian‘s editorial has identified a few of the political crises from which the poll has diverted our attention. For example:

Rishi Sunak is determined to end his Job Retention Scheme – the furlough to you and me – at the end of October, triggering a huge wave of unemployment. That’s right, even more people are about to learn what Universal Credit is all about – and they’re not going to like it.

He’s facing an annual national deficit that will have grown to twice the amount faced by Gordon Brown’s Labour government during the so-called “great recession” of 2008 or thereabouts. His party made a lot of mileage out of criticising Labour’s handling of that recession, slithering back into office by claiming it would end deficit spending and cut the national debt as well (instead the Tories more than doubled the debt to £2 trillion).

And in November Sunak has to produce a budget that will boost the economy and return the national finances to some semblance of balance (fat chance! He’s already facing a backbench rebellion on his mooted plans for tax rises).

Nobody’s going back to work because they don’t trust the government’s proclamations that it is safe from Covid-19. Nobody is likely to go back to universities for the same reason. The only people likely to want to go back to school are the kids – and that’s because they’re probably a bit bored by now and want to see their buddies again.

The Johnson government’s determination to push through Brexit as planned by December 31 means the party that pledged to end the scourge of “red tape” is more likely to throttle us with it, as businesses have to deal with an avalanche of pointless bureaucracy.

These are all problems that the Tories have created for the rest of us, either by incompetence or by design, since they first came back into power in 2010 – and most particularly since Boris Johnson became prime minister last year.

You need to be thinking about that, but instead you’re being seduced into thinking about a dopey Twitter poll that doesn’t mean anything at all.

You’re watching the right-wingers fiddling around while your country burns around you.

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Is ‘dire’ recession ‘until 2023’ warning really to be taken seriously or is there Tory doubletalk on the way?

Rishi Sunak: the Chancellor would love to be able to claim, just before Christmas, that the UK had bucked naysaying predictions.

We learned last week that the UK has gone into its deepest-ever recession, with Gross Domestic Product plunging by 20 per cent in the last three months alone.

Now an economist is warning that the Johnson government’s dire handling of the Covid-19 crisis means the recession will probably last until 2023, with serious consequences for the well-being of everybody in the UK.

But will it really?

I’ve heard these predictions before, and they are very handy for a struggling government.

Suppose the economy doesn’t stay in recession – or at least, that it doesn’t continue backpedalling for the three years predicted?

What do you think the Tories would do? I’ll tell you.

They’d come trumpeting their huge success in beating back the economic forces of recession, asserting that the recovery proves their Covid-19 policies were right, no matter how many people got killed!

And with more shops and businesses re-opening all the time, it seems clear that there will be a bounce-back straight away – meaning that the recession is likely to be over (in statistical terms) now, although the figures won’t be available until November.

And, of course, anybody hard-hit by that recession is unlikely to feel the benefit of that recovery; it will be for the fatcats, as is usual under a Tory administration.

Still: a good-news package that Johnson can sell to a desperate public right before Christmas – jolly hockey sticks for the Tories, what?

Source: Dire warning UK faces recession until 2023 and will fall behind US and Europe – Mirror Online

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What will you say when they ask what you did in the class war?


I seem to have hit a nerve when I said the Tories are waging a class war on anyone who isn’t filthy rich.

In fact, two Vox Political articles touched on this class war – the first implied it, the second made it explicit.

Today I opened Twitter to discover those words all over the place:

I’m not claiming credit for calling a thing by its name – this is “multiple discovery”, “simultaneous invention”, “synchronicity” or, if you like, an expression of the “zeitgeist”. More and more people are simply coming to realise, understand and accept that it is the policy of the UK’s Conservative government to push them down unfairly.

That is what the decision – and it was a decision, deliberately made – to punish ‘A’ level pupils who weren’t from private schools was all about. Yes, Gavin Williamson and the other Tories are saying it was down to a mechanical system, an algorithm – but that algorithm was written by a human being who intended it to give an advantage to the children of very rich people.

In this way, the Tory class war has stolen your children’s futures and given them to the undeserving rich.

It’s what the decision  – and it was a decision, deliberately made – not to fight Covid-19 in any meaningful way was all about. Tens of thousands of people in care homes have died – your relatives, maybe – because Matt Hancock and the other Tories said people with Covid-19 who lived in those homes should be sent back to them – never mind the fact that they did not have isolation facilities and the virus would run through those places like wildfire and be transferred to others by part-time staff who worked in different homes run by the same – private – firm.

The Tories – and their private business collaborators – failed to source personal protective equipment, ventilators, tests and the facilities to carry out tests. The lockdown they imposed was half-hearted and failed to stop the progress of the disease. Now that they have lifted it, albeit with a few measures still in place, more people are contracting the virus again. So they have stopped reporting the daily number of infections.

And the Tories have rewarded their private business collaborators for their failures with hugely expensive contracts to continue failing us – all at the public expense. Serco’s test and trace contract has been renewed, even though we know it won’t stop any second wave (really just a resurgence of the first wave that was suppressed but never went away).

You won’t get justice against the Tories by the normal means available to civil society because the Tories have either corrupted them already or are in the process of doing so. Boris Johnson illegally terminated Parliament’s last session in the autumn of 2019 and what was the result? He called a general election, lied to us until he was purple in the face and was rewarded with an 80-seat Parliamentary majority.

Now he is using that power to ensure that the courts will not be able to stop any more of his corruption by planning a curb on judicial review of government activity. He is imposing a dictatorship – just as he told you he would, if you could have been bothered to read page 48 of his election manifesto.

The police won’t help. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and the others are all above the law – no matter what they do. Try reporting a cabinet minister for a crime and see how far you get. They’ll tell you they’re treating it seriously, bounce the accusation around a few different departments and then say there’s no evidence. I’ve been there.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died already because it is Tory policy to kill claimants of sickness or disability claimants, who they consider to be “useless eaters”. That’s why the newspapers have been full of reports showing people with long-term illnesses and disabilities starving to death.

They wanted your homes so they imposed the Bedroom Tax and took them away from you.

The list goes on and on.

And still, too many people think they are the best choice to run the UK – even though the economy is in its deepest recession ever, and Brexit means it may never recover. You will suffer – they won’t. They have been stockpiling your cash and will simply use it to sit out any unpleasantness in the future.

But I feel sure a tipping-point will come – a flashpoint. I wonder how much we will all have to lose before that happens. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty much everything.

By then, many people may think there is nothing they can do. I am reminded yet again of Martin Niemoller’s poem about how the Nazis came for different groups who received no help from anybody else until, by the time they come for the author, there was nobody even left for him to ask.

But I am reminded of another group who were put in a similar position. When I visited Bosnia in the 1990s, I was told how – when the tanks from other countries moved in – the people, who were weaponless, left their homes and went up into the hills. They came back at night, when they took weapons – and lives – from the soldiers who had taken everything from them. And slowly, they took back their land from their oppressors.

I can see that happening here in the future.

I would rather it didn’t.

But it will, if people of good conscience don’t wake up, get up and put up a fight.

Keir Starmer won’t do it. He agrees with the Tories. That’s why he’s busy turning the Labour Party into Tory Lite Mk II (New Labour was Mk I) and accusing anybody who disagrees with him of anti-Semitism.

If you don’t want this to fall into violence, then you need to think what else you can do.

The ‘A’ level fiasco creates opportunities. Already some further education institutions have said they will take students who were downgraded, on the basis of their predicted results. Some haven’t. Clearly we should take note of the side that each University, each college, takes. Those who do the right thing should be rewarded in whatever ways we can. Those who do not should be shunned – meaning not only that we should not even try to send our children there, but that we should reject their graduates when they seek employment with our businesses. We know they won’t be any damn good anyway.

And employers who turn down applicants on the basis of the Tory algorithm’s discredited results should also be named, so we can stop buying their products.

That’s the best – non-violent – response I can conceive on the spur of the moment, and these things need to start happening now.

We’d better get to it, if we don’t want to roll over and die. And yes, that means you.

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How the blazes are parents supposed to judge school safety while the Tories contradict themselves?

School: even in exam conditions, teachers will struggle to keep pupils two metres apart. That won’t change no matter how many times Boris Johnson plays ‘aeroplanes’ in front of his media lapdogs.

Schools are safe. No, they’re not! Oh… the jury’s still out. Repeat ad absurdam.

That’s the Tory attitude to Covid-19 in the UK’s education system, and This Writer is glad to have no children of school age because I wouldn’t know what to do when term recommences in September.

Examples: on August 10, Boris Johnson played “aeroplances” – I mean, demonstrated the two metre distancing rule – while attending an empty school to make a more general claim that it will be safe to send all children back to similar institutions when they are full. What?

As The New European stated:

Boris Johnson has created further confusion by visiting an empty school out of term time to claim that they are safe during term time when they are busier.

It doesn’t follow, does it?

A day later (August 11), Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said there was little evidence to show that Covid-19 was transmitted at school – only to be promptly contradicted by one of his own ministers, Edward Argar, who said nobody has seen the final results of an investigation intended to determine the facts.

This was swiftly followed with an assertion by scientists that the report may show that teenagers spread the disease as much as adults.

Who do you believe?

The only sane answer is to be safe, and assume that schools will be breeding-grounds for Covid-19 the instant they re-open; if the Tory politicians are protesting that violently in the face of such caution by scientists, then they have to be lying.

After all, they don’t care about your kids. They just want to get their precious, stalled economy moving again so it can generate more money for them and not for you:

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Well, Boris Johnson, you’ve caused the UK’s biggest recession ever. Will you call that ‘world-beating’ too?

Boris Johnson’s government has got into the annoying habit of calling everything it does “world-beating”.

We’ve had “world-beating” PPE procurement (with hundreds of millions spent on equipment that can’t be used).

There was a “world-beating” Covid-19 track and trace app (that failed utterly and has been withdrawn).

Its replacement was also a “world-beating” privatised track and trace system (that has been scaled down in ignominious failure).

Now, at long last, it seems Johnson has a couple of statistics that he can genuinely describe as “world-beating”.

Are you ready?

The UK is now in the deepest economic recession it has ever recorded, and the worst of all the G7 countries.

And:

The UK’s Covid-19 death rates is the worst in the world.

The two are linked, of course, by Johnson’s failure to engage with the threat of Covid-19 when he was warned about it in November 2019; if he had taken appropriate steps, bringing in the equipment needed to treat the disease well in advance of the need to use it and locking down the country hard for the few weeks that would have been necessary to control the outbreak in the UK and stop infected people from bringing it in from outside, fewer people would have died and the economy would have recovered by now. Look at New Zealand for evidence of that.

It makes Johnson’s words at the start of the year ring hollow:

Remember: when he tweeted this, he had already been warned about Covid-19 and had ignored those warnings.

Now – well, let’s look at the information:

Johnson has guided the UK into the deepest recession since records began. The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic prosperity, fell in the second quarter by 20.4 per cent compared with the previous three months – the biggest quarterly decline since comparable records began in 1955.

Oh – and GDP had declined by 2.2 per cent in the first quarter, so this represents a decline followed by a plummet.

The economic calamity was more than double the 10.6 per cent fall in the US over the same period and also surpassed declines in France, Germany and Italy among G7 nations that have reported second-quarter figures so far. Canada and Japan have yet to publish second-quarter data but are not expected to record greater falls than Britain. “World-beating”?

Looking at the details, the services sector, including hotels, restaurants and finance, recorded a 19.9 per cent drop, and production (manufacturing, mining and energy) fell by 16.9 per cent.

Despite having been kept open by Johnson, construction fell by a whopping 35 per cent.

Spending – by households and businesses – declined by a quarter because people simply didn’t have the money. It’s interesting to note that spending fell by five per cent more than income for those who had been furloughed.

The Guardian‘s report seems to lay the blame on Johnson:

After resisting the launch of lockdown controls until later than other countries around the world and relaxing them at a slower pace, the ONS said the UK had plunged into the deepest decline of any G7 nation in the second quarter.

And other commentators aren’t holding back, either:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1293481430262185986

The figures show that GDP has fallen to 2003 levels – 17 years lost due to Tory incompetence.

The good news is that the recession is likely to be the shortest in history, as economic activity has picked up since June, when Johnson began to allow businesses to reopen.

The bad news is that there are predictions of a new wave of coronavirus infections and deaths – already the numbers are worsening:

So the recovery may be extremely short-lived.

And don’t forget that in four-and-a-half months the full effect of Brexit will hit the UK, when the country will impose on itself the equivalent of enormous economic sanctions because racists like Boris Johnson lied to us that foreigners were interfering in our lives:

No doubt the collapse that results in 2021 will be “world-beating” too.

Given all of the above, I can only echo the words of Peter Stefanovic:

Is it any wonder Boris Johnson is trying to distract us by pointing his finger at desperate migrants in dinghies?

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Yes, it is more ‘meal deal’ than ‘new deal’ – but Sunak’s summer statement isn’t ALL bad

Rishi Sunak: his job could be hanging on the result of this plan. Shame it has already been sabotaged by his boss Boris Johnson.

It didn’t matter what Rishi Sunak was going to say in his summer statement because Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and the other Tories had already sabotaged it.

Sunak’s objective is to save jobs while the UK works through the post-Covid recession, but his problem is that his colleagues’ insistence on easing lockdown means the Coronavirus isn’t over yet – no matter what Johnson says.

In this nation of shopkeepers (as Napoleon had it), if we want to keep people in their jobs, we need to keep spending money into – and through – the economy. That means going out and paying for things.

But the number of new infections in the UK is high – and will remain so, while Johnson insists on helping the virus infect other people by opening pubs, schools, and whatever else he’s planning next.

That means people are going to be reluctant to resume normal patterns of social consumption.

It’s going to be difficult in the extreme to restore confidence after these Tory blunders. After schools and pubs, Johnson can claim it is our social duty to go back out and spend until he is redder in the face than the gammons he represents, but the public will only hear him telling us to go out, catch the virus and die.

That’s the second hurdle that Sunak faces; thanks to Johnson, public trust in the claims of politicians is at an all-time low, being worsened all the time by his insistence on lying whenever the mood takes him and refusing to apologise when his lies are exposed.

So the ending of the furlough scheme in October is directly counter-productive; watch the number of redundancies increase when that month comes round and try to tell me I’m wrong.

The offer of a £1,000 “jobs retention bonus” is likely to fall similarly flat. The conditions are that employees must be carrying out proper work, and be paid at least £520 per month – the lower limit of National Insurance payment – and it seems unlikely that many employers will be able to manage this.

Similarly, the VAT cut from 20 per cent to just five per cent to help out restaurants, pubs, cafes, B&Bs, hotels, theme parks and cinemas may only have limited success. Who’s going to go, if there’s a chance they’ll catch a fatal disease?

Sector-specific stimuli such as this are a good idea – don’t get me wrong – and this would work if the number of Covid infections was much lower than it is (in England, at least) – and if more people were interested in wearing face masks, perhaps (how would that work, when they’re eating food?) – but as I’ve already mentioned, Johnson has put a stop to that with his ridiculous blunderings.

And the already-infamous “meal deal” voucher, offering 50 per cent of the cost of meals for everybody eating out between Monday and Wednesday, throughout August, may go hungry for customers. Here’s the reason:

On the other hand, raising the threshold for stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000 might conceivably be a good idea, if it stimulates construction work as people are encouraged to buy new homes.

Possibly best of all the measures laid out in the statement was a scheme to create jobs for young people, subsidising six-month work placements for people aged 16-24.

If this is used to re-skill the workforce – actually preparing the UK for future opportunities – then it has enormous merit.

But I can see employers using it as a cheap alternative to the workers they already have. Why take just £1,000 over three months to keep on your current workforce when the Tories will give you a teenager for twice as long and pay all of their costs?

So my initial verdict is that this is final proof of the Conservative government’s economic illiteracy; they really couldn’t run a p***-up in a brewery.

But it would be wrong to pre-judge a plan that hasn’t gone into practice yet.

The sad part is that this may break Sunak but Johnson will laugh it off, no matter how disastrous the result.

Source: Coronavirus: Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils £30bn plan to save jobs – BBC News

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Bank of England pumps £100bn into UK economy – but who gets the money?

Money: the Bank of England has pumped £100 billion into the UK economy to ease the strain caused by the Covid-19 crisis – but you won’t see a single penny of it. In fact, you are more likely to be asked to pay back the investment.

This is a wake-up call.

If you’ve seen reports that the Bank of England is bailing out the UK economy with £100 billion of what’s called QE (quantitative easing), you may have been lulled into a belief that everything’s going to be fine.

You would be mistaken.

The UK economy has taken a pounding because of the Covid-19 crisis. We are currently in the grip of an economic recession that makes the 2008/9 financial crisis look like the temporary misplacement of a back-pocket fiver.

In March, the economy shrank by around six per cent. In April, it shrank by a further 20.4 per cent. This Site doesn’t have numbers for May and June.

That meant 600,000 people lost their jobs between March and May. Many more found themselves suffering 20 per cent pay cuts as they were put on the government’s furlough scheme.

Employers were also put under extreme pressure as they have to pay what’s known as “overheads” – rent/mortgage on the land/buildings they use, power, supplies if they are perishable, and so on.

It is an established economic fact that money pumped into a financial system has a far more beneficial effect, if it goes to the poorest people – those who were hardest-hit by the current crisis, as they were by the financial crisis of 2008/9 before this.

They didn’t see a single penny of the QE that came into the economy after the recession of 11/12 years ago, and they won’t see a penny of the new £100 billion.

In fact, they’ll be told to pay back the cash that the government has provided for them, even though they’ve been given less than enough to survive comfortably as it is.

If This Writer recalls correctly, QE for the financial crisis went no further than the large financial institutions the Bank of England deals with on a day-to-day basis.

These would then lend the money to businesses and other organisations, with a view towards receiving the cash back – with interest – in the future.

The businesses then increase the prices of their goods while depressing the pay they give their workers.

Have you spotted the reason this won’t work?

Source: Coronavirus: Bank pumps £100bn into UK economy to aid recovery – BBC News

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‘Red Wall’ communities to be hit harder by coronavirus recession than the South

Pittance: count your coppers if you live in the North of England or the Midlands – the Tories will starve you of cash and favour the South East as they try to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

Everybody in the former ‘Red Wall’ constituencies must be feeling properly humiliated now.

What a bunch of chumps. They voted Tory because they wanted to “Get Brexit Done” and now they find that the only things being “done” are they themselves.

Perhaps they’ll console themselves by thinking that even a Labour government would not have been able to stop Covid-19 ravaging the UK – but that’s only because the Tories, who they helped vote back into government, had failed to make the proper preparations in good time.

Whichever way you look at it, it seems everyone in those constituencies who switched their vote to Tory is about to get their just desserts. Let’s hope they learn their lesson, which is: never ever vote Conservative.

My sympathy goes out to everybody in the North who didn’t vote for the Tories but will suffer just as much as those who did.

Communities in the North will be hit more than twice as hard by the economic impacts of coronavirus than parts of the South, a new report has found.

The recession caused by the crisis, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week acknowledged would be “the likes of which we have never seen” will see an average fall of 12 per cent in permanent losses in economic output over the next five years across the so-called Red Wall, the Centre for Progressive Policy found.

It means areas in the North and the Midlands would be hit harder than communities in the South East, which would see average losses of five per cent.

The Red Wall crumbled at the 2019 general election in the face of the Conservatives’ advance, and the party has pledged to “level up” prosperity across the UK.

We can see very clearly that the Tory pledge to “level up” prosperity across the UK was never serious.

Source: ‘Red Wall’ communities to be hit harder by coronavirus recession than the South, report finds | Yorkshire Post

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If Eton isn’t reopening until at least September, why the hurry to bring back state schools?

Closed: and apparently Eton won’t be open to pupils until at least September.

Don’t you think it’s a bit strange?

I mean, if it was safe to reopen schools at the beginning of June, you’d think the recipients of the most expensive education in the United Kingdom would be desperate to get their noses back to the grindstone. Wouldn’t you?

And their parents – many of whom are, I’m sure, inhabiting chairs in Boris Johnson’s cabinet – would be lining up to send them.

But it seems there’s no chance of Eton (for example) reopening its doors until September at the earliest.

We know that there’s no scientific support for schools opening so soon.

We know that teachers and teaching unions are absolutely opposed to it – along with the British Medical Association:

We know that the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland won’t be allowing it – along with some English cities whose leaders are thinking for themselves:

And protest against the Tory plan to force our children back into school, without having shown any interest in making them safe, is mounting:

So why are the Tories so hasty about getting your kids back to school where they’ll almost certainly catch Covid-19 and give it to you?

Here’s a thought:

Perhaps it’s because, as long as children are out of school, parents are divided between staying home to look after them and going to work. With the kids in school, the parents have no reason to stay away and the economy can get moving again, making money for the Tories’ billionaire donors.

It’s a stupid, stupid rationale, I know. If the kids catch Covid-19 in schools (because there won’t be any social distancing there – try telling four, five and six-year-olds they have to stay at least two metres away from anyone else), and transmit it to their parents, then the adults will be busy trying not to die, rather than working.

But then: what’s rational about the Tory response to coronavirus?

Raise taxes on the rich, voters tell Johnson. They’ll be disappointed – it was never in his manifesto

Voter confusion: a survey has shown that voters’ policy preferences indicate they should have put Labour in power, not the Tories.

The Independent reckons Boris Johnson is facing a dilemma after a survey found voters who gave him his election landslide want him to raise taxes on the rich.

There’s just one problem:

That was never a Conservative manifesto promise so he’s under no obligation to do anything of the sort.

Did these people not realise that they were voting for the promises the Tories put in their manifesto?

Voters have never had the right to make demands on a government after putting it in power.

And I know it must seem unfair, considering governments very rarely act according to their manifestos. Theresa May’s 2017 manifesto was obsolete almost before it was published.

And in Johnson’s case, the dilemma isn’t even “Does he deliver for Conservative voters or business leaders?” as the news website claims.

Johnson will deliver for himself, as always. If anybody else profits, that’ll be their good fortune.

But the survey does make one thing very clear.

Voters who want government intervention in the economy, tax rises for the wealthy and spending on public services made a mistake voting Tory.

Those were Labour policies.

Source: People who voted for Boris Johnson want government to raise taxes on the rich, survey finds | The Independent

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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