Category Archives: Politics

Johnson’s contempt of the courts as Covid contracts are STILL unpublished

UK prime minister Boris Johnson missed his calling in life: he belongs in the circus.

Who can doubt that Boris And His Amazing Talking Backside would be a hit with audiences across the country, if not the globe?

And let’s be honest, it would be a far more appropriate place for him to make the kind of utterances he does.

There can be little doubt that most of Johnson’s conversation comes, not from his mouth, but from the other end.

He tends to give vent to short bursts of hot air with very little real content. And such content as there is, stinks.

A prime example of this verbal flatulence is the moment he claimed that all Covid-related contracts were “on the record for everyone to see” after Matt Hancock had been found to have broken the law by failing to publish them.

And were they?

Challenged about the ruling in the House of Commons on 22 February, Mr Johnson said: “All the details are on the record.”

The prime minister added: “The contracts are there on the record for everybody to see.”

But three days later, in a written legal response to the Good Law Project, seen by the BBC, government lawyers admitted 100 contracts for suppliers and services relating to Covid-19 signed before 7 October had yet to be published.

So they weren’t. And nobody is surprised because we all know that Johnson’s words don’t come from his mouth but from somewhere much lower down.

The other Tory claim about this – that the government has been “working tirelessly” to deliver protection for health and social care staff – was disproved the moment it was uttered.

We all remember that health staff had to fight Covid with no personal protective equipment at all when the first wave of the pandemic broke over the UK.

And social care staff actually carried it between homes, infecting – and killing – 30,000 residents.

When the High Court made its judgement against Matt Hancock last month, he was ordered to publish details of his contracts and pay £85,000 towards the costs of the Good Law Project, whose members brought the case.

The government hasn’t published those contracts. Shouldn’t Hancock now suffer a stronger penalty?

Source: Covid contracts still unpublished despite Boris Johnson’s claim – BBC News

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Tories say they have to cut aid to Yemen because of Covid crisis financial pressure. But there isn’t any!

A destroyed school in Yemen in 2017 – three years after the conflict there began – where a Saudi-led coalition has been accused of killing thousands of civilians.

The Johnson government has cut aid to war-torn Yemen by as much as 60 per cent, claiming it cannot afford the cost because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the entire cost of government measures to deal with Covid-19 has been paid already, with money the government created specifically for that purpose. There is no financial pressure at all.

Meanwhile, sales of weapons – to the Saudi-led coalition that has been accused of killing many thousands of Yemeni civilians in the seven years since the conflict began in 2014 – continue unabated.

So a decision to cut life-saving aid, quoting

 “recent global challenges”

that have created

“a difficult financial context for us all”

is a decision based on a lie. No wonder 101 charities have condemned it.

Source: Yemen conflict: UK cuts aid citing financial pressure from Covid – BBC News

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Bang goes the Good Friday Agreement as paramilitary groups accuse Johnson of betraying peace

Northern Ireland: it seems Boris Johnson’s stupidity may end not only his post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU but also terminate 23 years of peace.

Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement due to Brexit – and they aren’t nationalists but unionists.

The Loyalist Communities Council, a group representing the views of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando, are protesting at Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The group has written to Johnson and Ireland’s taoiseach, Micheál Martin, warning of “permanent destruction” of the 1998 peace agreement without changes to post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The letter said unionist opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol – the part of the Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland a part of the EU’s single market for goods – should remain “peaceful and democratic”.

But this is a decision to withdraw support for a peace deal that underpins power-sharing in Northern Ireland. If a solution is not found quickly, peace in the province could be lost – again.

And it would be Boris Johnson’s fault.

In fact, the Brexit deal seems to be unravelling fast for Johnson. The European Union has refused to ratify it for a second time after Brussels accused the UK of violating it.

The decision came after Johnson’s ministers said they would unilaterally change parts of the agreement to give businesses in Northern Ireland time to adapt to new trade rules.

Johnson is unsafe wherever he goes now.

If he decides to change the Brexit deal again, to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, his dream of free trade with the EU (which turned out to be a nightmare in any case) will be over forever.

But if he doesn’t, he risks re-igniting the Troubles – as violence by nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998 was known.

Loyalist paramilitary groups endorsed the Good Friday agreement and say they have no desire to reignite the Troubles.

But the LCC said the Northern Ireland protocol had breached safeguards in the Good Friday agreement to protect the status of the province and the rest of the UK.

So Johnson has put himself in the worst of all possible worlds. And he only has himself to blame.

Source: Brexit: loyalist paramilitary groups renounce Good Friday agreement | Northern Ireland | The Guardian

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‘Bullied’ former Home Office boss drops case against Patel in return for huge payout of YOUR cash

Sir Philip Rutnam: rather than prove claims of bullying against him – and demonstrate the culture of bullying allegedly created by Priti Patel in the Home Office – he’s going to take the money and run.

Pathetic.

The former Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, Sir Philip Rutnam, has stabbed his fellow civil servants in the back by coming to a settlement of his ‘unfair dismissal’ case against Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Rutnam had claimed he had been the victim of a “vicious and orchestrated” briefing campaign after trying to get Ms Patel to change her bullying behaviour.

His case was due to be heard by an employment tribunal in September – which seems a long wait, considering he quit in February last year.

But now it isn’t going to happen because he has opted to take Patel’s thirty pieces of silver instead – or rather, £340,000 plus his legal costs.

And when I say “Patel’s” money, I mean public money because of course she wouldn’t dream of paying him anything herself.

This is not an appropriate use of public funds.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said:

Taxpayers will be appalled at having to pick up the bill for the home secretary’s unacceptable behaviour.

(Strictly speaking, he’s not right. The government creates money to cover its expenditure. It taxes us to give that money its value. But he’s right that we should not expect public money to be used to pay for the indiscretions of Tory ministers.)

The government is saying it does not accept liability for the manner of Rutnam’s departure from his job.

If that’s true, then why pay a “substantial” amount to settle the case?

Source: Philip Rutnam: Ex-Home Office boss settles unfair dismissal case – BBC News

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Sunak’s Budget is ‘for the fairies’ because it assumes that Covid is over

His next job: because Sunak has just served up a Budget ‘for the fairies’ that is likely to fall flat on its face in a few short months.

It seems the phrase du jour is ‘for the fairies’.

Some daft Tory MP said nurses’ calls for pay increases were “for the fairies” – see my earlier story on that.

Now I see Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has used the same phrase to describe Rishi Sunak’s budget.

He also said the Johnson government is “firing blanks” at every level.

And that Sunak is likely to be back at the Dispatch Box in a very short time with emergency measures to cope with the disastrous failure of all his Budget predictions.

He says these things with confidence because of one simple fact: Covid-19 has not agreed to follow Boris Johnson’s “roadmap” (it’s actually a timetable but you can’t expect a numbskull like your prime minister to understand the English language) out of lockdown.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Mr Murphy:

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Iain Duncan Smith is to give his ignorance to post-Brexit government reform

The pick of the Tories: Iain Duncan Smith is a creature of odious habits and even worse politics.

The former Tory leader whose ‘reforms’ of social security have led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people has been appointed to lend his ignorance to the government again.

Iain Duncan Smith will chair the new Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform.

The title of the organisation creates the acronym TIGRR – tiger, get it? But Duncan Smith is no kind of tiger. As benefit claimants know from his time as Work and Pensions Secretary, he’s a little bitch.

This Site has its own acronym for him – RTU. It stands for “Returned To Unit”, the message of shame on the record of armed forces personnel who fail training for promotion up the officers’ ranks – as he is said to have done.

The government has claimed that the TIGRR will “identify and develop proposals across a range of areas that will drive innovation and competitiveness, reduce barriers to start-ups and scale-ups, create opportunities for innovation to make the most of cutting-edge technologies, and support growth and dynamism right across the UK economy”.

But with RTU at the helm it is more likely to reduce competitiveness with new schemes that will be massively expensive while helping nobody (like Universal Credit), create barriers that stop people getting what they need (as he did with all benefits, particularly those for the sick and disabled), and abandon cutting-edge technologies for paper and ink (as DWP workers were forced to do when his plan for Universal Credit to be fully computerised fell on its ass).

He didn’t even help his own government! All his so-called “reforms” created more expense and none of them saved any money at all.

Labour has said it is ready to fight over any reforms that could be harmful – particularly to employment rights.

While This Writer has nothing personal against Andy McDonald, I remember when the party under Ed Miliband, in the dying days of its previous right-wing, neoliberal incarnation, voted in support of RTU to harm benefit claimants and I have a doubt.

The simple fact is that the appointment of this death machine should tell us everything we need to know about what his organisation will do. And it won’t help anybody.

Source: Iain Duncan Smith appointed post-Brexit government adviser | The New European

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Bristol council passes motion to make reparation for slavery. Tories oppose it

Over it goes: the toppling of the Colston statue, back in June.

Here’s yet another reason for This Writer to be proud of the city of my birth.

After making controversial history during the Black Lives Matter protests last year, when citizens of Bristol tore down a statue of the slaver Edward Colston and threw it in the docks, the city council has gone a step further.

It has passed a motion to make “reparations” – not just financial but also cultural – for the slave trade in which the city participated and its enduring impact.

As former Lord Mayor Cleo Lake stated, “The contribution of African civilisation, culture and people versus how we have been treated is one of the world’s great paradoxes.”

Bristol is also calling for the UK’s Tory government to set up an all-party parliamentary inquiry to examine how such reparations might be delivered.

This might be a challenging request as although the motion was passed with 47 votes in support, 12 Tory councillors voted against it.

Believe it or not, they said the motion to make amends for an abhorrent past “risks exacerbating some divisions by presenting a binary view of the world when the reality is much more complicated”.

That sounds like doubletalk to This Writer! That is, disapproving speech that is intended to confuse an issue.

I think these Tories simply don’t want to face the reality of Bristol’s – and the UK’s – slave-trading background, with all the harm it has done, or the racism that still pervades this nation as a result.

In opposing the motion, they also opposed community wealth creation strategies to produce more sustainable and equitable growth whilst alleviating systemic poverty, which acknowledges that a just economy is the only way to achieve racial justice.

Typical Tories, you might say.

Source: ‘History is made’ as Bristol passes slavery reparations motion

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‘Compassionate Conservatism’: Covid deaths to cut state pension costs, says BBC

This BBC story could explain much about the Corporation’s wholehearted support for Rishi Sunak, even though he’s utterly vile.

The Beeb presents as a good news story the deaths of so many over-65s that the cost of paying pensions is set to plummet by £1.5 billion by 2022.

And wait! because there’s even more Good News!

The government will also receive an extra £0.9bn from inheritance tax, partly due to Covid-related deaths.

Every cloud has a silver lining, eh? As in thirty pieces of silver, if you recognise the reference.

Here’s an interesting slip, though:

More than 144,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have occurred in the UK since the start of the pandemic, figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show.

That’s 21,000 more than the official figure of 123,000 at the time of writing.

I think somebody’s been lying again – don’t you?

Source: Budget 2021: Covid deaths set to cut state pension costs – BBC News

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BBC accused of ‘client journalism’ as it tries to make Rishi Sunak acceptable to the public

SuperTory: this previous BBC attempt to make Rishi Sunak acceptable had just one thing right – the “£” sign on his chest, signifying that he exists for one thing alone: money.

Let’s get this straight: Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak is an out-of-touch money-grubber whose wife is richer than the Queen.

He has nothing in common with you.

But the BBC keeps trying to turn him into something acceptable – as if there was any such thing as a “cuddly Tory”.

Its latest attempt at a free party political broadcast for the Tories was broadcast today – Budget day – and received the roasting it deserved:

Steve Topple’s piece in The Canary* hit exactly the right notes:

BBC News‘s video was little more than a cuddly look at a man who, however you dress him up, is a Tory. He’s one who’s left some sick and disabled people in dire straits. Sunak is a man who’s ignored the plight of the so-called three million “excluded” people. Yet BBC News even went as far as to push the idea Sunak could one day be PM.

Client journalism” is where the government uses reporters for its own agenda. Peter Oborne wrote about this for openDemocracy. He noted an example where both BBC and ITV political editors Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston quoted an unnamed government source in 2019. Here the news they put out was, as Oborne said, “fake” with no basis in fact. But the two corporate journalists pushed it anyway.

This latest BBC video, with its upbeat music, rapid-fire delivery, and glossy production reeks of client journalism. What the public needs on Budget day is critical and unbiased analysis of Sunak and his policies. It doesn’t need yet more pro-government propaganda from the BBC posing as something informative.

Damn straight. Now try complaining to the BBC about it. You’ll get a load of hogwash about “balanced reporting”.

But this is nothing like that.

It’s unbalanced reporting – verging on insane.

Source: Here’s the BBC’s most insidious bit of Rishi Sunak propaganda yet | The Canary

And there’s another excellent take on this issue here: BBC, is this your idea of journalism? | The Critique Archives

*If you’re about to hit the ‘comment’ button to come out with a claim that “The Canary is unacceptable because…” then step away from the keyboard because you have been brainwashed.

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Nothing for you if you’re sick, disabled, at school or in care: reaction to the Tory budget

They all do this: but the way Rishi Sunak held the red box indicated there wasn’t much in it. And there wasn’t.

Rishi Sunak’s budget has shown he is a diehard Tory, with concessions for businesses while those of us in need can go whistle.

He has claimed his hands are tied by huge Covid-19-related debts – but we all know that he has already paid them off, by the simple means of creating the money needed to do so.

And his big plans for the future were pathetic: new ‘free ports’ that have always been a bad idea, and an investment bank to replace the one a previous Tory government sold off a few years ago.

We are ruled by intellectual pygmies – and that is being harsh on the pygmies.

I watched the budget speech and commentated on it on Twitter, so I can provide a first-hand account of the announcements – but first, I’d like to go straight to what wasn’t announced, with comments from people who were reading at the time:

So the people who did all the hard work during the Covid-19 crisis will receive no reward for their sacrifices at all – even though many of them sacrificed their lives, contracting the virus and dying because Matt Hancock couldn’t be bothered to supply proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at the right time.

However:

People with disabilities who did not receive the £20 benefit uplift because they are on so-called “legacy” benefits will still receive nothing more, even though the uplift will remain in place until September. After then, it seems people who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 will fall over a so-called “cliff edge”, with the uplift cancelled, forcing them to live on much less.

The Tories have made a major issue of education in the crisis, demanding that our children must go back to school as soon as possible in order to catch up on what they have missed – but Rishi Sunak has provided no extra facilities for this in his budget. It seems it was all talk and – in fact – the plan is to reopen a major vector for transmission of Covid and hope that the increase in infections – and deaths – won’t be noticed amid the falling numbers triggered by the vaccination programme.

And after years of promising to fix problems in the social care system – that became hugely pronounced when 30,000 people died in care homes because of Tory stupidity – Sunak is breaking that promise by offering nothing.

Meanwhile, those who profited hugely from the pandemic – either by being perfectly situated to continue selling goods to people in lockdown or by receiving government Covid-related contracts to provide services at hugely-inflated costs (many of which were not actually provided because the contractors were not qualified to do so) are to get off scot-free because Sunak has backed away from calls to impose a wealth tax.

So, what has he done?

Well, he carped on a lot about borrowing a huge amount of money to pay for Covid-19. That was a stream of lies from start to finish, as I pointed out:

So we were led to expect tax hikes a-go-go. But this didn’t happen:

The refers to income tax, National Insurance and VAT. However – and this is indeed a ‘however’:

This is the amount you earn before you start paying tax, or before you start paying it at a higher rate. Because these thresholds are frozen, it seems more people will pay at a higher rate due to wage inflation, so there will be a de facto increase in taxes. But this depends on people receiving pay rises to cover their costs and Tory policy over the last 11 years has been to discourage that – it’s the reason real take-home pay has fallen by thousands of pounds per year since 2010.

This was the only increase in taxation, and it is only on a tax on profits. So firms that pay corporation tax can avoid it by ensuring that they make no profit from 2023. The best way to do that is to invest in infrastructure and wages (by employing more people, perhaps).

It would be wrong to say that Sunak’s budget does nothing for ordinary people – but it’s all based around existing Covid-related schemes:

Sunak went on to announce plans for government investment. The main points were:

But “free ports” are not new, nor are they likely to help:

Here’s an interesting point:

Mr McDonnell himself promptly answered it:

There was also some muttering about policies that give a nod to the environment but if you blinked, you missed them – and This Writer blinked. They certainly don’t constitute a “Green Industrial Revolution”!

As Tory budgets go, this is not the disaster for working-class people that it could have been – although the main hits have been offset, so it may be a few months or years until we can know the effects for sure.

The lack of any hard taxes or austerity measures suggests a tacit admission that Covid-19 really is bought and paid-for, and there won’t be any real need to pay for it again.

So This Writer is left with a huge sense of anticlimax. I was expecting to be fearful after today; instead I feel let down.

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

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


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