Category Archives: Politics

With Labour set to lose three-fifths of its vote, will Jess Phillips still be smiling tomorrow?

What’s so funny? Jess Phillips was all smiles when Jeremy Corbyn suffered his huge defeat in 2019. Will she be as amused if Keir Starmer suffers a worse one in 2021?

Keir Starmer has changed his tune.

Only days ago, he said he had a “mountain to climb” and would continue doing that after today’s local election. Now he is saying he will “carry the can” if the result goes badly.

But will he?

Polling suggests that Labour is heading for its worst local election result in decades – equivalent to that suffered by previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the general election in 2019.

The Guardian reported that

Labour’s canvassing in Hartlepool suggested only 40% of the party’s previous supporters had pledged to vote for its candidate, Paul Williams

and Starmer will have to take responsibility if Williams loses; the candidate was practically parachuted in after Labour’s head office interfered with the selection process in a return to the bad old days of Tony Blair’s New Labour.

A particular problem across the board is StarmerLabour’s lack of any coherent policy after he abandoned the “continuity Corbyn” pledges he made to get elected as party leader and opted to be what Tony Benn once described as a “weathercock” politicians.

It means rather than choosing to take Labour in a well-defined direction, he has chosen to adopt whatever seems popular at the moment in a bid to fool voters into thinking he’s on their side.

That tactic seems to have failed.

Labour’s policy on the doorstep seems to have been to appeal to anti-Tory sentiment – but the party seems to have done this by making itself a caricature of northern working-class voters: “beer, fish and chips and flags,” as one left-wing MP told the Graun.

This has caused offence in several ways:

And behind it all is resentment at the way right-wing Labour MPs, who are now in charge of the party, stabbed Corbyn’s Labour leadership in the back in order to ensure that big defeat in 2019 – only to make matters worse.

At the time of writing, Jess Phillips is trending on Twitter. Here is the reason in two tweets:

That kind of betrayal is not something a political party can easily leapfrog.

Now it seems party members are planning to demand Starmer’s resignation if the party suffers major losses – including in Hartlepool.

He has said he’ll “carry the can” – but even in that, it seems he may just mean he’ll kick it down the road.

Already we are hearing that he has voiced concern that the next general election could be in 2023, not the following year, and that he is trying to suggest that this would be too soon for Labour to change direction if a new leader was elected between now and then.

If this is true, then he is deliberately avoiding the point – that it is better to have a new leader with a chance to win than an old one who will definitely lose. That is, after all, the reason he and his right-wingers forced Corbyn out.

Well, the one they presented to the public, anyway.

The saddest part of this whole sorry StarmerLabour saga is that he has made the Conservatives more popular – surely the cardinal sin of any Labour leader.

In Hartlepool, it is being suggested that half of the electorate will support the Tory candidate – a shocking claim in a Labour-held seat.

And it’s one that is made even worse when one considers that abominable record of the current Tory government under Boris Johnson:

His Covid-19 policies led to the deaths of 150,000 people – most of these could have been prevented if he had locked down earlier and more effectively.

He has mired his government in allegations of cronyist corruption.

And his Brexit – the way he pulled the UK out of the European Union – may actually lead to a shooting war with France over fishing rights near the Channel Islands; a war in which the UK, as the side causing the conflict, would be seen as the villain.

Johnson must be delighted that Starmer is leading Labour towards death in a ditch. It has taken all the heat away from his own failings.

And that is why – barring miracles – Starmer will have to go.

Source: Starmer promises to ‘carry the can’ as Labour braces for challenging elections | Keir Starmer | The Guardian

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Covid-19 experience shows that when UK politicians say ‘lessons will be learned’ THEY ARE LYING

Let the bodies pile high: even if Boris Johnson didn’t say those words, that was the ultimate result. And his decision to ignore what happened – his determination that lessons won’t be learned – makes him and his party unfit to govern, at national or local level.

If the people of the UK were the kind who take notice of facts, we would be indebted to Simon Wren-Lewis of Mainly Macro for pointing out how badly our Tory government – among many others – got its strategy for Covid-19 wrong.

Professor Wren-Lewis points to a study in top medical journal The Lancet, showing that countries that tried to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 – in order to keep their economies going – caused many times the number of deaths suffered in countries that decided to eliminate the virus altogether.

And their economies suffered more, as well!

You want proof?

Here’s the chart from the Lancet article comparing the number of deaths (per million, per day) in mitigation countries (blue) with those in elimination countries (red):

That seems conclusive – as does the chart showing the effect on our respective economies:

Elimination countries saw a smaller fall in GDP, and a faster recovery at the end of 2020 and so far in 2021. There was no health/economy trade-off and anybody who suggests that is a liar.

But this is an article about whether lessons were learned – and the answer is that in the UK, they clearly weren’t.

Consider Boris Johnson’s keenness to end the first lockdown at the earliest opportunity in order to get the economy moving again.

What did he achieve? Not one, but two further lockdowns.

He learned nothing – either from the UK’s own experience or from comparisons with other nations.

He deliberately ignored the facts in order to pursue a boneheaded plan that caused tens of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided.

And he has trumpeted this national disaster as though it were a huge success.

What kind of psychopath claims that deliberately causing more than 100,000 avoidable deaths is a resounding success?

There can be only one conclusion: he didn’t learn anything from his failures because he didn’t want to.

We may take our finding from this and apply it to other situations in which bad outcomes are followed with a claim from government that “lessons will be learned”.

They won’t. These people are lying and should be ejected from government – of any kind – as soon as possible.

And guess what?

There are local elections on May 6.

Source: mainly macro: How most of the West got the pandemic so badly wrong?

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Is time running out for ‘evasion’ politicians like Nadhim Zahawi?

Nadhim Zahawi: this is from 2016, but relevant to today, when he appeared on TV to defend prime minister Boris Johnson’s weird financial arrangements in the run-up to local elections.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was on ‘morning media junket’ duty today (May 5) and duly toured the studios showing us how the BBC toes the Tory line rather than doing anything useful.

He made a big thing of the possibility that everybody over 50 could have a third Covid-19 vaccine injection by the autumn (I’m still waiting for my second, although I know autumn is still a long way away), but became the world’s biggest ignoramus when asked about anything else, such as Boris Johnson’s weird finances.

The performances – or rather,  the public reaction to them – suggested more than he wanted, though:

They suggested that time is running out for this kind of evasion. People are wise to it and, through the social media, we are making other people wise to it too.

Consider the following. Here’s how he started out:

And here’s the commentary on it:

Notice that Zahawi had an easy ride on the BBC in comparison with elsewhere:

Ultimately, all the minister achieved was to get people to examine his own record – and it was found wanting:

So it seems the game has been given away and Zahawi’s selfish politics is on the way out.

Or is it?

The only reliable yardstick of public opinion is the result of an election, and we have a huge series of polls across the UK tomorrow (May 6).

On the basis of what they have done, the Conservatives should go down like the proverbial lead balloon.

But will they?

Or are there still enough drones out there – who will vote for them no matter how corrupt they prove to be – to see them through?

I fear the latter. The BBC has to be preaching to someone, after all – and it has the lion’s share of the news audience.

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#PoorBoris part II: now he’s complaining that he *can* pay for his kids!

Money, money, money: but how much of it was donated by Boris Johnson’s Tory cronies, did it pay for the Downing Street wallpaper, and did Johnson want even more, so his donors paid for his children instead of him?

Don’t you wish Boris Johnson would make his mind up?

The reporters at The Times and The Sunday Times probably do.

Back in September, The Times reported that Johnson was complaining that he was hard-up as a result of achieving his lifetime ambition of becoming prime minister.

It had cut his income in half, the paper claimed, while he was still paying for four of the six children he accepts responsibility for.

Now it seems he is complaining that he is perfectly capable of covering his costs, after the Sunday Times suggested he had asked Tory donors to pay for a nanny.

(For one of his kids or for Johnson himself? Couldn’t Jacob Rees-Mogg have provided a decent reference? He knows nannies.)

Apparently,

Asked about the same issue during the Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The prime minister has covered the costs of all childcare.”

And here’s the serious part – because it puts this story on the same level as the Downing Street refurbishment.

Johnson said he had covered the cost of that as well – but he couldn’t tell us whether he asked (for example) Lord Brownlow to put up £60 grand for it first.

And this story was prompted, it seems, by

one Conservative Party backer saying they “resented” being asked to help foot the bill for Wilfred’s childcare.

(I’m presuming Wilfred is one of the four he actually pays for.)

So now Johnson’s childcare costs are on the same level of corruption as the Downing Street wallpaper – which I understand the Electoral Commission is probing.

Let’s hope it probes Johnson’s nanny as well.

My only problem with this whole corruption angle is the obvious one that has been raised by many people on the social media:

This is a man whose decisions have led to the Covid-19 deaths of more than 150,000 people. It seems wrong that he should be brought down for sponging off of his cronies.

But then, as other people on the social media have pointed out, Al Capone was brought to book (literally) over tax avoidance.

Source: Boris Johnson paid for all son’s childcare costs, says Downing Street – BBC News

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Hartlepool by-election: will Tories win because Starmer parachuted a right-winger in for Labour?

Voting: but will people in Hartlepool vote Labour after the contempt with which Keir Starmer has (allegedly) treated them?

A poll – with, admittedly, a tiny number of respondents – has suggested that the Conservatives could take Hartlepool from Labour in Thursday’s by-election.

Is this because Keir Starmer steamrolled over the wishes of local part members to parachute a right-wing candidate in?

The behaviour of Labour’s head office with regard to the election has been, reportedly, a disgrace – and if this is how Starmer plans to run the party, then voters in Hartlepool will be right to abandon him.

The problem is that the Conservatives are likely to benefit from it.

Starmer is already facing criticism that his daft antics have strengthened the Tories. How will he be able to justify himself if they take Hartlepool?

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Tory MP admits his government inflicts suffering on Opposition-controlled areas

Boris Johnson swears he didn’t say it but David Amess has tacitly admitted that a Tory government will make people suffer if they don’t support the Conservatives in the local elections.

A Conservative member of Parliament has called for people in his constituency to elect a Tory-controlled local council – because his government won’t support Opposition-run councils.

How revealing! Although it’s nothing we didn’t know already – from the behaviour of governments run by David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Here’s the evidence:

As I say, we have seen this kind of corruption in the way Tory government treat local authorities.

The Boris Johnson government is stripping schools in Opposition-run councils of their Pupil Premium at the moment, in order to stuff schools in Tory authorities with even more undeserved cash. That’s just one example.

This is attempted blackmail.

The Tory is demanding that his constituents vote for his party – or they will lose funding; they will lose support. They will suffer.

Unacceptable.

Anybody living in Southend should put their vote elsewhere – and start campaigning not only for the removal of Amess from Westminster but also for him to be stripped of his knighthood.

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Starmer will ‘take responsibility’ for local election results – but won’t resign in a disaster?

Keir Starmer: if you support him on Thursday, Labour will have no reason to root out the corruption, sleaze and backstabbing that led to the fall of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

It seems the UK is afflicted with political leaders who won’t take full responsibility.

We all know about Boris Johnson. He has surrounded himself with sleaze since becoming prime minister, with cronyism running rampant during the Covid-19 crisis and the revelation that he apparently said he would have seen “bodies pile up in their thousands” rather than have a lockdown last October.

And they did, of course.

On the other side of the House of Commons we have Labour leader Keir Starmer saying that he will take responsibility for Labour’s election results – but not to the extent that he would consider resignation in a disaster.

He said there was a “mountain to climb” after Labour’s 2019 election failure and Thursday’s local poll was just the “first step”.

This is not, strictly speaking, true. Or rather – it seems he hasn’t actually done anything to start climbing that mountain. It is also possible that the mountain is really more of a hillock, in terms of the reasons for the loss.

You see, there is a strong groundswell of belief among those who supported Labour during the Jeremy Corbyn years, that party apparatchiks who had been installed during the dark days of ‘New Labour’ had worked hard to prevent the party from winning a victory under a left-wing leader.

There have been demands for an investigation which Starmer has ignored. Indeed, the Forde Inquiry was supposed to look into whether anti-Semitism allegations were weaponised to attack Corbyn and his supporters after a report making that claim – with evidence – was leaked to the public.

The focus of the inquiry was quietly changed towards the end of 2020 so it now concentrates only on “the structure, culture and practices of the Labour Party” and will not check the facts put forward by the so-called “Labour leaks” report at all.

I can’t say that Starmer intervened because I don’t know that for sure. Something happened to change the purpose of the inquiry, though.

And it means that Labour seems set to give itself a meaningless whitewash, in the same way that we expect internal Tory inquiries into sleaze to whitewash that party.

In terms of corruption, then, it seems there is no difference between Labour and the Conservatives.

And this makes Starmer’s pledge to “clean up politics” after the return of “Tory sleaze” is meaningless. He’s too mired in sleaze of his own.

Then again, perhaps This Writer is misinterpreting what Starmer meant when he said he had a mountain to climb.

Perhaps he meant he was having his work cut out, trying to convince party members and supporters who had been betrayed by his own sleazy right-wingers, both in Parliament and in Labour offices across the UK, to trust him with their vote.

I won’t trust him or his party with mine – and I won’t be withholding my vote, either.

If people stay away from the polling stations because they’re unhappy with their favoured parties, nothing will change; the representatives of the largest parties will still get elected by voters who’ll support them no matter what.

So I will be voting for parties whose policies most closely correspond with the kind of politics I want to see.

I strongly recommend that you do the same, rather than crazily sticking with the sleaze-mongers and hoping they’ll change.

If you keep supporting them, no matter what, they’ll keep doing what they like.

Source: Sir Keir Starmer says he will take responsibility for Labour election results – BBC News

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Foster quits as DUP boss over Brexit. Can we get similar leverage against Boris Johnson?

Gurning, gurning, gone: Arlene Foster, whose support of Theresa May in 2017 deprived the UK of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, has been forced out of politics after a vote of “no confidence” by her party, the DUP. Why couldn’t it have happened sooner?

The leader of Ulster’s Democratic Unionist Party who propped up Theresa May’s minority Tory government to help push through a disastrous, unpopular exit from the EU is being forced to quit politics.

Arlene Foster, announced that she was resigning as DUP leader on Wednesday, after losing a vote of “no confidence” among party members.

About 80 per cent of the DUP’s Stormont and Westminster ranks signed a letter of no confidence in her leadership.

Brexit has been hugely divisive in Northern Ireland, with the imposition of an artificial trade border in the middle of the Irish Sea considered by many to be a breach of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the so-called ‘Troubles’, 23 years ago.

As a result, violence has flared up in many parts of the province.

Ms Foster supported the UK Conservative governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson that have brought this division down upon Northern Ireland and it seems she is being made to take responsibility for the result.

She has now announced her intention to quit the DUP altogether, saying it is no longer the party she joined. Sour grapes?

Her future seems assured. Loyalty to the Tories tends to reap rewards for individuals, and it has been suggested that Foster will find her way into the House of Lords, with its £300-per-day salary, just for turning up.

Her fate raises an important question: when will Boris Johnson suffer a similar humiliation?

Johnson was the poster boy for Brexit. He campaigned hard for it in 2015-16, and was noted for his ridiculous red bus with a grotesque lie painted on the side, that money paid to the EU could be spent on the NHS if the UK left.

Trade deals he promised have failed to materialise. The UK’s banking power has been decimated. Exports have fallen dramatically. And the nation’s international influence is waning.

Johnson himself stands accused of serial dishonesty, and of wishing death on thousands of his fellow UK citizens in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis he has mishandled so atrociously.

And yet he remains perversely popular. For how much longer?

Arlene Foster believes the DUP is no longer the party she joined, say sources close to her.

Source: Arlene Foster to quit DUP after leaving leadership roles – BBC News

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Tory hypocrisy: they can’t sort out fire safety in your flat after Grenfell, but support huge payments to redecorate Johnson’s

Grenfell: this is what happens when inflammable cladding on tower blocks catches fire. Tenants in many more blocks have had this stuff inflicted on them, and the Tories want to force them to pay to get rid of it.

Isn’t it typical of the Tories that they’re happy to nod through possibly corrupt funding of Boris Johnson’s flat redecoration, but won’t protect people in blocks of flats from fires like that at Grenfell Tower?

They have just been knocked back – yet again – by the House of Lords, who have voted to shield residents of tower blocks from fire safety costs.

MPs had rejected the Lords amendment but, after their fourth defeat on this subject, it will now be reinserted into the bill.

The bill modifies a previous law to clarify that building owners must manage and reduce the risk of fire in their properties.

However, last week the House of Lords added an amendment which sought to ensure building owners do not pass on the costs to leaseholders and tenants until a support scheme is in place.

Housing minister Chris Pincher described the amendment as “ineffective and defective”, claiming that it would prevent any remediation costs from being passed to the leaseholder, even in instances where the cost was very minor – such as replacing a smoke alarm.

As a tenant in a rented property myself, I can inform Mr Pincher that my landlord pays for the cost of replacing the smoke alarm here as a matter of course.

It should not be used as an excuse to continue denying tower block tenants improvements that could save their lives.

And it could – because there are only hours left before the end of the current Parliamentary session, when the Bill will be dropped – unless the Tories decide to carry it over to the next session (which seems unlikely to This Writer).

All of this takes place in the shadow of the row over prime minister Boris Johnson’s own flat. Who pays to replace the smoke alarm there?

Tory MPs would have been happy to let £200,000 be paid, just to redecorate the rooms above 11 Downing Street, with no questions asked.

But members of the public have pointed out that this means they are happier for huge amounts to be paid on a single person’s flat – if that person happens to be one of them – than for cash to be spent on potentially life-saving work for many people.

That’s not a good attitude to have with an election next week.

Source: Grenfell: Government defeated on fire safety costs bill – BBC News

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Let the ridicule pile high: social media destroy Boris Johnson over Downing Street flat redecoration

Loadsamoney: the controversy over Boris Johnson’s flat has concentrated attention on the fact that Tories always find cash for their own benefit, while depriving members of the general public of the funding that a proper government should provide to them.

The Electoral Commission has announced that it is investigating the funding of redecoration work on Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, saying it has “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.

And our friends on the social media have gone into satire overdrive.

Today they have targeted the prime ministerial consort, Carrie Symonds, under the hashtag #CarrieAntoinette – on the grounds that she was the driving force behind the astonishingly-expensive changes.

So we see this:

And, indeed, this:

The claim that Symonds demanded the use of wallpaper costing £840 per roll has been particularly inflammatory:

Many have pointed out the hypocrisy of being funded with huge amounts of cash to pay for the redecoration of a Tory prime minister’s flat, while the Tory government still refuses to fund safety improvements to blocks of flats afflicted with inflammable cladding that makes them as likely to go up in flames as Grenfell Tower (due to decisions by Tories, most likely):

But possibly the best snipe of the lot came from department store chain John Lewis:

The image is of a John Lewis van outside the gates of Downing Street.

The way events are moving, in a few days we’ll be seeing a removal van there.

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