Category Archives: Industry

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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Why did Boris Johnson LIE about construction workers being in lockdown?

Remember Boris Johnson’s claim that he wanted construction workers to get back to work, in his speech on May 10?

The government subsequently said it wanted to re-start the UK housing market.

But here’s a thing:

Construction work never actually stopped.

This Writer has a friend who works in construction. She posted on Facebook, describing her seven weeks of “lockdown” as follows:

Mon 23rd March, Boris announces lockdown, very specific rules on when we can leave our houses. I cannot work from home but is it necessary I go to work?

Tues 24th March, go to work as normal.

After two days of bad press and abuse from public regarding construction sites still continuing, the company announces that all our sites are to ‘pause’ to take stock and risk assess what works we can carry out safely in line with PHE guidelines at close of business Weds 25th March.

Fri 27th March – Two days of risk assessing, creating one way systems and altering welfare to maintain social distancing later, we have approval from construction director to reopen site on Mon 30th.

Sun 29th – I wake up with a fever, spend all day in front of log burner with two duvets on top of me and am still cold. Message the boss to say I won’t be in in the morning and will be self isolating for 7 days.

Three days of fever and extreme fatigue follow where I alternate between sleeping for two hours, waking up, eating, watching TV for a few hours then sleeping again.

Thurs 2nd April – feeling a bit better, manage to make it out the house and go for a 3 mile bike ride.

Sun 5th April – Feeling better I message the boss to say I’ll be back at work in the morning.

Mon 6th April – arrive at work to find that, while I’ve been off, the project was requistioned by the NHS on 29th March. They want the building in 3 weeks time (now 2) and the job is now open 19 hours a day.

Next 2 weeks – a blur of 14+ hr days, not knowing what day it is.

Tues 21st April – Handover the building – 4 weeks early – delighted client

Sat 25th April – 1st day off in 3 weeks.

Mon 27th April – snagging time.

Sun 10th May – Boris says people who can’t work from home should start going back to work – WHAT 🙄 some of us never stopped !

Thurs 14th May – bored of snagging now, get phone call from director, report to Nightingale project Monday morning – time to go go go again.

Lockdown? What lockdown? 

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Has British Steel been rescued – or has China gained a foothold in the western industry?

British Steel in Scunthorpe: It seems one reason the plant here has lost a large amount of income was Brexit uncertainty.

China has found a way around high EU tariffs on its steel, by buying British Steel for the bargain price of just £70 million.

It seems that country’s strategy has paid off – the UK industry has been struggling for years after it was said that China was flooding the international market with cheap, inferior steel.

In 2016 the EU imposed tariffs of up to 73.7 per cent on Chinese steel after an influx of cheap imports from Asia forced European manufacturers to cut jobs and lower prices.

But it seems that the damage was done, and it seems the only way the UK could protect 4,000 jobs in the industry, and 20,000 in the supply chain, was to allow a Chinese company to buy British Steel.

Won’t this be a way around those huge EU tariffs – even with Brexit, if a UK government negotiates a favourable trade deal?

And won’t this mean more inferior steel flooding the market, with the safety risks this entails?

From a political point of view, this is a slap in the face for the right-wing parties.

They attack Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour as far-left amateurs who don’t understand economics – but now they are being forced to accept help from the ‘tiger’ economy of the far east, which is run by communists.

It is clear that these Chinese left-wingers know far more about economic imperialism than the Tories.

British Steel is set to announce a rescue deal with China’s Jingye Group, which could safeguard up to 4,000 jobs in the UK.

Jingye Group has agreed in principle to buy British Steel for £70m.

It is understood that the government will help in the form of loan guarantees and other financial support.

British Steel has been kept running by the government via the Official Receiver since May, when the company went into liquidation.

As well as employing 4,000 people at its Scunthorpe and Teesside sites, British Steel supports an additional 20,000 jobs in the supply chain.

Another 1,000 jobs are based in France and the Netherlands – those are included in the deal too.

Source: British Steel to be rescued by Chinese firm in £70m deal – BBC News

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British Steel needs £30 million or it will fail. Will Tories say ‘There’s no magic money tree’?

British Steel in Scunthorpe: It seems the plant here has lost a large amount of income due to Brexit uncertainty.

We’ve been here before.

If you’re not aware, British Steel Ltd was formerly owned by Tata Steel Europe, a company based in India (if I recall correctly). This Site (and many others) reported on the government’s reluctance to do anything when Tata indicated it would pull out of its UK holdings – indeed, then-Business Secretary Sajid Javid was on a junket to Australia when the situation was at crisis point.

The UK business was eventually bought by Greybull Capital for the princely sum of £1, with a possibility of £400m investment to follow. In fact, it seems less than £20m was provided. Now Greybull wants a £75m investment package to keep British Steel trading – on top of a previously-agreed £120m loan*. In the two years following its acquisition, Greybull had charged British Steel £6m in management fees and £34m in loan interest. Links to the evidence in support of these statements may be found here.

Now Greybull and the company’s lenders are putting £30m into British Steel, and have revised their rescue package request down to £30m.

All things considered, one could almost sympathise with the Tory government for being unwilling to help out. Still, perhaps Mr Javid should have exerted himself towards finding a better buyer at the appropriate time. You will certainly, I hope, understand why I tweeted the following:

I was referring to the Kolkata flyover collapse of 2016, when it was believed that substandard steel (sourced from China?) had buckled after concrete was poured onto it. The disaster killed 50 people and injured a further 80.

Unite the Union has called for British Steel to be nationalised if a rescue package cannot be finalised.

And the Labour Party has said it would nationalise the firm, to save the industry – if it were in government.

But the Conservatives – the party of government – have been dragging their feet.

They won’t nationalise.

But they haven’t produced another solution.

Until they do, the possibility of an influx of cheap and nasty Chinese steel endangering our construction projects is rising.

*This was to cover an EU bill for carbon dioxide emissions. At a time when environmental harm is high on the political agenda, this is extremely damaging.

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The influence of ‘big tobacco’ isn’t limited to think tanks: former minister Priti Patel was a lobbyist

Priti Patel: A former lobbyist for ‘big tobacco’.

Following the revelation that the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank is a lobbyist for British American Tobacco and for companies producing food that harms health – and also a major donor to the Conservative Party – does anybody remember this?

Priti Patel, the former International Development Secretary who was forced to resign after apparently conducting her own foreign policy in Israel, also lobbied for BAT, albeit in her former employment for a PR firm:

The employment minister, Priti Patel, was part of a team of spin doctors paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to help a tobacco giant counter negative publicity, including that surrounding its joint venture with one of the world’s most brutal military regimes.

Documents unearthed by the Observer shine new light on Patel’s work for Shandwick, a lobbying and PR firm that worked for British American Tobacco (BAT) in the early years of this century.

The documents, released by BAT following a legal action, show that Patel was one of seven employees used by Shandwick on the account. One of her jobs was to lobby MEPs against the introduction of the EU tobacco control directive, which was introduced shortly after the new millennium.

In 2001, Shandwick drew up plans to invoice BAT for 279 hours of its work a month, of which Patel’s contribution amounted to 100 hours. BAT was charged £165 an hour for Patel’s services. The entire team was on a monthly retainer of nearly £40,000 – a total of almost £500,000 a year.

Firms like BAT are major donors to the Conservative Party, while people like the IEA and Ms Patel were instrumental in pushing their agendas onto politicians – and onto the public through political discussion shows like the BBC’s Question Time.

These people betray the public trust because they present the desires of corporate bosses as the needs of the nation. And then you wonder why the environment is going to ruin…

Source: Minister worked as spin doctor for tobacco giant that paid workers £15 a month | Business | The Guardian

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Anti-NHS think tank that funds the Tories – hugely – is itself funded by ‘Big Tobacco’

Kate Andrews: This woman – and the IEA think tank she represents – is bad for your health.

Think about the British Medical Journal‘s findings: Tobacco and food firms whose products are harmful to health have been secretly funding the Conservative Party, through the think tank known as the Institute for Economic Affairs.

So next time the odious Kate Andrews appears on Question Time, or Politics Live, or The Andrew Marr Show saying the NHS should be scrapped, bear in mind she’s speaking for British American Tobacco…

And she’s giving the Conservative government instructions.

A secretive think tank which called for the NHS to be scrapped while its heads pour millions into the Conservative Party – and its MPs’ – coffers is being funded by big tobacco, an investigation has found.

British American Tobacco is one of the groups funding the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free market think tank which is notoriously close-lipped about its donors.

The IEA has been an outspoken critic of public health measures for tackling smoking, obesity and harmful drinking, and past funders include organisations affiliated with gambling, alcohol, sugar and soft drinks industries.

Health experts said the findings, in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), raise the prospect of a future Conservative leader aligning with big business at the expense of the public’s health.

Source: Big tobacco secretly bankrolling anti-NHS think tank whose bosses donate thousands to Tory leadership contenders, an investigation reveals | The Independent

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Was Huawei contract a pay-off for former Conservative advisors?

Well, well, well… Huawei.

I didn’t know what to make of it when the row broke out over a leaked report saying Huawei was being contracted to help build the UK’s 5G communications network, despite concerns over national security.

Concerns over whether spyware would be inserted into the network had been commonplace in advance of the decision and it seemed odd to me that the Conservative government would ignore those concerns.

The possibility that this was the result of mischief by leading Tories who saw the issue as a tool to win points in a future leadership race seemed likely.

I mentioned this on Twitter last week:

Another user added a new perspective:

Now I’m hearing something else:

Could this be the reason the Conservatives are awarding a contract to Huawei – that they are giving a financial boost to former advisors?

It will be interesting to see whether the mainstream media ever allow this to see the light of day.


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Honda has confirmed Swindon car factory closure – saying it’s nothing to do with Brexit

This Site has taken a little flak from Brexiteers(?) after reporting then-current beliefs that the closure of Honda’s Swindon factory was to do with the UK’s departure from the EU.

Honda has since made an official announcement that the factory will close in 2021 – not the following year, as had been suggested – saying the move was due to global changes in the car industry and the need to launch electric vehicles, and had nothing to do with Brexit.

The BBC’s Dominic O’Connell, quoted in this article, said: “Brexit issues may be lurking in the background, but Honda’s real reasons for closing Swindon are about the future of the global car industry, not Britain’s future relationship with Europe.”

So there you have it.

But I wasn’t wrong to report what was being said at the time. Yesterday’s article featured a video clip of a disgruntled Honda worker laying the blame very firmly at Brexit’s door – and on the Conservative government that has handled it so badly.

That’s how the facts were understood then. This is how they are said to be now.

Who knows what we’ll hear tomorrow?


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£80m for Nissan to invest in the UK but Brexit put a stop to it – leaving exposed Tory liars in its wake

Nissan’s Sunderland factory: It is understood no jobs will be affected by the decision not to make the X-Trail there. We can hope that announcement isn’t untrue, as it was not made by a Conservative MP.

“There’s no cheque book. I don’t have a cheque book,” said Business Secretary Greg Clark on the BBC’s Question Time in 2016, after he was asked if he had done a “sweetheart” deal to keep Nissan in the UK.

He lied.

He had offered a secret package of state aid to Nissan that could have been worth up to £80 million, if the car manufacturer had gone ahead with its plan to make the new X-Trail in Sunderland.

When a state aid package was formally awarded to Nissan last year, it turned out to be worth £61 million – a sum that appears not to have been enough for the carmaker, as it has announced that it will not make the X-Trail in the UK. It made very clear the fact that its reasons include uncertainty over Brexit.

Mr Clark only acknowledged the existence of the state aid award yesterday (February 4), in a letter to Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP who chairs the Business select committee in the House of Commons.

Apparently Esther McVey hadn’t seen the memo and, in an excruciating appearance on LBC radio, repeatedly denied that Nissan’s withdrawal – meaning the loss of a planned 741 new jobs – was due to Brexit. She was put right by Nissan’s Europe division boss Gianluca de Ficchy, after her appearance on the show.

Tory liars: They even lie to each other.

Worse than that – for This Writer – is the fact that Conservatives are happy to make huge amounts of money available for these so-called “sweetheart” deals with businesses, as they are happy to write off huge amounts of tax when it is dodged by the already obscenely-rich.

But they squeeze anybody on low earnings – hard – to make us pay for their extravagances, and they wouldn’t dream of making sure we are paid a proper living wage, or enjoy a proper, dignified benefit system.

Tory priorities: Take everything away from you and lie to you about it.


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Nissan to abandon UK X-Trail manufacturing plans because of Brexit – claim


Where are those blue-skyers who keep saying there’s nothing to worry about and the UK won’t lose any business because of Brexit?

I’d like to see how they explain this away.

Japanese car-maker Nissan is set to abandon its plans to build its X-Trail model at its Sunderland plant, according to reports.

The company is said to have performed a U-turn on its intention to build the car in the northeast less than two months before Britain is set to leave the European Union, amid increased Brexit uncertainty.

Source: Nissan ‘set to abandon plans to build X-Trail model in Sunderland’ as Brexit uncertainty shakes UK car industry | The Independent


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