Category Archives: Privatisation

Every new MP receives briefing on how Tory social security reforms have harmed us – so they can’t say they don’t know

Long-term readers of This Site will remember Mo Stewart, the researcher into the harm being caused to claimants of sickness and disability benefits by successive Conservative governments’ determination to convert the social security system to a for-profit insurance scheme.

Mo spent 10 years researching and writing a book on this subject: Cash Not Care – The Planned Demolition of the UK Welfare State.

After the 2019 general election, she became concerned that the huge new influx of Conservative MPs – along with those from other political parties – were ignorant of the harm that government policies had caused.

So she wrote a briefing paper specifically addressing the issue and sent it to all of them.

Labour’s John McDonnell has apparently offered to arrange a debate on the subject, if possible.

Whether or not that happens, Mo has provided me with a copy of the document so we all have a record of what these MPs should know – and so they won’t be able to plead ignorance.

And here it is:

Social Policy Abused:
The Creation Of Preventable Harm

Executive Summary

The Preventable Harm Project (the Project) ran for ten years and closed in November 2019, with the evidence identified within the Project findings widely promoted during 2019/20. The Project identified the bipartisan political ambition to eventually remove the UK welfare state, to be replaced by private income replacement health insurance. In order to remove the welfare state, it was first necessary to remove the psychological security provided by the welfare state. This was achieved by the adoption of a flawed disability assessment model, and the manipulation of the general public aided by the tabloid press, that successfully demonised claimants of disability benefit(s). Large numbers of suicides linked to the adoption of the Work Capability Assessment are overlooked by the Department for Work and Pensions, and successive Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports, highlighting the link between the Work Capability Assessment and suicides, have also been disregarded. The Work Capability Assessment was fatally flawed by design and should be abolished, and the departmental intimidation of disability benefit claimants should be outlawed.

Introduction: The Creation of Preventable Harm

1. Introduced in 2008 to restrict access to the new Employment and Support Allowance long-term out-of-work disability benefit, the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a ‘non-medical functional assessment’ that disregards all clinical opinion. Since 2010, the WCA has been linked to the deaths of thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants who applied for state financial support when unable to work, yet were deemed to be ‘fit for work’ by the fatally flawed WCA.

2. Twelve years since the adoption of the WCA there is an identified and growing mental health crisis within the UK linked to claimants of disability benefit(s), and a disturbing increase in suicides directly linked to the WCA, as identified by published academic research but dismissed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

“The worst thing, I find, is realising that I am forced into looking for a life that I want but have no chance of having. I seriously feel I may kill myself because being sick, having next to no money, no life, no future, no cure, constant pain and constant disapproval defeats me.”

An extract from the ‘Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group’ project, conducted by Catherine Hale and published by MIND and the Centre for Welfare Reform.

3. In both 2006 and 2007 the government’s own expert medical panel warned the administration not to adopt the WCA, advising that it was ‘not fit for purpose’ due to the predictable negative impact on public mental health. The expert panel’s clinical opinion was disregarded by the DWP. The removal of clinical opinion from disability assessment using the WCA guaranteed that many of those in greatest need were destined to die, as the state removed the financial and the psychological security of a guaranteed income when unfit to work.

4. There have been two official Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports linking the WCA to suicides, with other Coroners expressing concern at inquests due to the identified enforced suffering of the deceased by the DWP. Coroners’ official Rule 43 reports and identified concerns are disregarded by the DWP, whose social policy reforms since 2010 created preventable harm to those in greatest need linked to intimidation. The constant threat of sanctions, which removes all disability benefit income, leaves the chronically ill and disabled community in need of state financial support living in fear of the DWP.

5. Regardless of the Jobcentre being advised that a claimant is unable to attend an interview due to ill health, disabled claimants are routinely met with an ‘institutional reluctance’ to meet their needs, as identified in Coroner’s reports. Jobcentre staff’s decisions to sanction a claimant can cause death by starvation, in C21st UK, when all income is removed for a period of weeks or months. No-one is held to account when some of those in greatest need are starved to death by the state.

6. The WCA is used to limit access to all state disability funding including the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit and the War Pensions for older working-age disabled veterans, which is a military medical pension not an out-of-work benefit.

7. The WCA is regularly and inappropriately referred to as a ‘medical assessment’ by the DWP, MPs, academics, policy advisers and journalists. The WCA is not a medical assessment and is totally unrelated to clinical opinion. The adoption of the WCA is identified as being attributed to psychocoercion by successive administrations, to remove what once was the psychological security of the welfare state for anyone who is unfit to work.

8. Identified in 2008 by the American Association of Justice as being the second worst insurance company in America, the corporate insurance giant Unum (Provident) Insurance have been advisers to the UK government since 1992, and were appointed as the official UK government consultants for ‘welfare claims management’ from 1994. Concerned by the increase in various conditions that could not be confirmed by blood tests or x-rays, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Unum Insurance adopted a biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability assessment, which disregards all clinical opinion.

9. Unum advised the UK government as to how to adopt a similar BPS assessment model in the UK, and funded an assessment centre at Cardiff University for this purpose. The DWP adopted the discredited Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment for the WCA, which disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and prescribed medicines. The human consequences of using the WCA is that many of those in greatest need would die, with many driven to suicide with a common perception that anyone claiming to be unfit to work, and in need of state financial support, will be persecuted by the DWP. The Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment failed all academic scrutiny.

Policy recommendations

• Since 2009 every clinical authority in the UK have demanded that the WCA should be abolished. This includes the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nurses and the British Psychological Society. Introduced by the private health insurance industry, disregarding clinical opinion was always dangerous. The WCA is fatally flawed and should be abolished without further delay, to be replaced with a disability assessment that considers clinical opinion, with many assessments being paper-based, so that the chronically ill and disabled community are no longer intimidated by the DWP.

Research findings
• In order to remove the past psychological security provided by the welfare state it was necessary to discredit vast numbers of disability benefit claimants, aided by the tabloid press, which helped to manipulate the British public.
• Social policies were adopted with a fiscal priority whilst disregarding health and wellbeing, which policymakers failed to take into account when recommending policies which were harmful.
• Since 2010 the social policy reforms, and the additional austerity measures, were destined to have a catastrophic and often fatal consequence for many of those in greatest need. Thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants have died when ‘killed by the state,’ with a 2014 NHS Digital Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey report that identified that almost 50 percent of ESA disability benefit claimants had attempted suicide at some point.
• Prosecuted disability hate crimes, including murder, increased by 213 percent between 2010-2016, during the coalition government’s term in office.
• The relationship between physical health and mental health is well documented. The numbers of benefit claimants who have perished due to social policies since 2010 will never be known.
• Published in September 2016 ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ provides the results of the first six years of independent disability studies research for the Preventable Harm Project. The book is now recommended reading for various social policy, health and legal courses at universities in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

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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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GP surgeries are being privatised by the Tories. Do you really want your healthcare dictated by profit?


Doctors’ surgeries across the UK are being bought up and run for profit by private firms – including at least one from the United States.

American health insurance giant Centene has just taken over 49 NHS GP practices. In the last few years, they have bought NHS surgeries in Nottingham, Basingstoke, Milton Keynes, and Leeds. Yours could be next.

Centene appears to be a “bad actor” too – described by the Daily Mail as “profit greedy”.

In 2018, the company took control of a group of surgeries in Essex, including the historic Osler House surgery, founded in 1955. Soon after, Osler House was closed, leaving thousands of residents without a GP within 40 minutes’ drive from their house.

Healthcare provision doesn’t matter to them, you see. Their only concern is their profit.

In the US, Centene has been sued by thousands of people who bought insurance from them. Court papers showed that those people had “difficulty finding — in many cases cannot find — medical providers”.

Campaigning group We Own It said: “Your own local GP surgery or the local GP surgery your friends and family depend on may not be affected today. But if this takeover goes ahead, your GP surgery is not safe.

“Our local Clinical Commissioning Groups – the bodies that make local healthcare decisions in every area – can stop this.”

The group is urging you to sign a petition calling for an end to Boris Johnson’s privatisation of GP services, and for you to urge your family, friends and colleagues to sign it too. Will you?

The petition is here.

The choice is yours.

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Hancock won’t resign over unlawful Covid contracts – and why should he when Starmer supports him?

With friends like these: Matt Hancock has refused to resign for breaking the law – and Tory-in-Labour-clothing Keir Starmer has supported him. So much for democracy. So much for justice.

Matt Hancock has refused to resign after the High Court said he had breached a legal obligation to publish details of Covid-19-related contracts with private firms. He said he had been doing what was needed in order to save lives.

That, of course, has yet to be seen – and we shouldn’t have to wait too long.

The court’s decision means details of Hancock’s hidden contracts must be publicised at last. We will be able to judge whether he spent billions of pounds of public money on measures that have actually saved lives…

… Or simply funnelled cash into the pockets of Tory cronies and chums who then failed to do anything useful with it at all.

Sadly, Hancock is under no political pressure whatsoever to resign after Keir Starmer, a so-called “Blue Labour” turncoat who pretends to lead Her Majesty’s Opposition but instead acts more like a cheerleader for the Conservative government, spoke in support of him instead:

What a betrayal – well, you can tell how This Writer feels about it from my own response:

All Labour – as a party – has done is urge Hancock to publish details of contracts that remain secret at the time of writing, which is no more than the High Court ordered.

And Labour said he should stop using emergency procurement powers in order to put a stop to cronyism. He should have stopped months ago; procurement of Covid-related equipment and services was an emergency matter in February 2020 but by now it should be subject to the proper tendering process – the emergency should be over.

Some Labour MPs have demonstrated that they have more backbone than the party’s fake of a leader, though:

It is hard to tell what is most disappointing about the way this story is developing.

If the UK’s government was functioning properly, then Hancock should have been out of a job within minutes of the High Court’s decision becoming public.

But government hasn’t functioned properly in this way since the 1980s, if I recall correctly.

The news media failed to grip the story properly; it is only because the social media publicised it that they felt pressured into mentioning it at all.

And the inaction of the Labour leader has been nothing short of contemptible.

Source: Matt Hancock refuses to resign over failure to publish details of Covid contracts – Mirror Online

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Hancock faces ‘resign’ demands over his unlawful Covid-19 contracts

Bad smell: if Matt Hancock thinks he can smell something rotten, it’s probably Hancock himself.

Was Vox Political the first media outlet to publicise the High Court’s ruling that Matt Hancock acted unlawfully?

How welcome it is to see that some other sites have followed suit, although it seems the mainstream media have been dragging their heels. Why is that, do you think?

Perhaps they realised that a revelation of this kind – that a Cabinet minister dished out contracts worth billions of pounds to private companies run by chums of his political party – many of whom then failed to honour them – had illegally hidden the details in order to dodge scrutiny – would be harmful to the reputation of the Conservative government.

But why should that bother anybody in the news media?

All reporters have an obligation to the facts – not to their friends.

It seems some of our favourite channels/papers have forgotten that.

Well – too bad. This cat is out of the bag and people are furious:

How long will Hancock last?

Or are the Tories really convinced that they are untouchable?

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Matt Hancock broke the law by keeping Covid-19 contracts with private firms secret, High Court rules

Unlawful: Matt Hancock broke the law by handing out huge amounts of money in contracts to private firms and withheld the details from the public.

The High Court has ruled that Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock “acted unlawfully” by failing to provide details of contracts with private companies to the public within the required deadline.

This meant the public had been left unable to “scrutinise contract award notices and contract provisions, ask questions about them and raise any issues with oversight bodies such as the NAO or via MPs in Parliament”.

In other words, Hancock broke the law in order to avoid being held to account for the contracts he had signed.

We should remember that we now know many of these contracts, signed under emergency regulations that allow the government to dodge normal competitive tendering procedures, went to firms run by cronies of the Tory government who could not honour them – while experts were overlooked.

So billions of pounds have gone to waste – including the £200,000 cost of the judicial review in the High Court that ruled against Hancock.

The Secretary of State had tried to claim that the proceedings, brought by the Good Law Project alongside MPs Debbie Abrahams, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran, were not an “economic operator” and therefore did not have the necessary “standing”.

But Mr Justice Chamberlain stated that it was unrealistic to claim that economic operators would have challenged Government’s breach of the law in these circumstances.

In his ruling, the judge stated,

The Secretary of State acted unlawfully by failing to comply with the Transparency Policy.

There is now no dispute that, in a substantial number of cases, the Secretary of State breached his legal obligation to publish Contract Award Notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.

The Secretary of State spent vast quantities of public money on pandemic-related procurements during 2020. The public were entitled to see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded.

But the loss of the case – and the forfeiture of £200k associated with it – doesn’t mean that Hancock has cleaned up his act.

A press release from the Good Law Project states: “We shouldn’t be forced to rely on litigation to keep those in power honest, but in this case it’s clear that our challenge pushed Government to comply with its legal obligations.

“Judge Chamberlain stated that the admission of breach by Government was “secured as a result of this litigation and at a late stage of it” and “I have no doubt that this claim has speeded up compliance”.

“It begs the question, if we hadn’t brought this legal challenge, what other contract details would have remained hidden from view?

This judgment, which can be found here, is a victory for all of us concerned with proper governance and proof of the power of litigation to hold Government to account.

“But there is still a long way to go before the Government’s house is in order.

“We have now written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care detailing what needs to be done to improve procurement processes and ensure value for British taxpayers.”

These measures include:

  • Publishing the names of all companies that won contracts through the so-called “VIP lane” that prioritised firms run by friends of Tory ministers over the experts – together with the names of those who introduced them and, where successful, the amounts they were paid.
  • A commitment to recover public money from all firms that failed to meet their contractual obligations – with this condition to be determined by an independent process and not by anybody in the Tory government.
  • A commitment to commission a judge-led public inquiry into the procurement of personal protective equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • And a commitment to follow the lead of other jurisdictions by publishing PPE contracts, with pricing details visible, to enable proper scrutiny.

This last measure could be extremely embarrassing considering revelations that the government has lost £15 billion worth of PPE.

If the government refuses to agree to these terms, it seems the Good Law Project has further legal challenges lined up which – if opposed by Hancock – mean the Secretary of State is likely only to end up wasting even more public money.

Source: The judgment is in – Good Law Project

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Tory tax avoidance advice firm had £145m Covid contract unlawfully, says lawyer

The ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm Deloitte is being pursued in the courts over a claim that a £145 million consultancy contract related to Covid-19 was handed to it unlawfully.

There’s also an issue over the fact that the Conservatives failed to announce details of the five-month contract until after it had expired.

Deloitte is well-known to the Tory government. One of the main accountancy firms involved in creating tax avoidance schemes, it also advised the Cameron government on – guess what? – tax avoidance.

This Writer has a feeling there may have been a conflict of interest there…

Now, Deloitte is being criticised after it received 25 Covid-related contracts, totalling £193.3 million, courtesy of Tory peer James Bethell, the government minister in charge of test and trace. Of these, five – worth £170.5 million – were awarded directly with no competition.

Lord Bethell previously ran a lobbying company that represented Deloitte as they won over £700 million of government contracts on Chris Grayling’s Work Programme schemes for the unemployed.

This Writer has a feeling there may have been a conflict of interest there, too…

The most important issue here is the misuse of public money.

In the Mirror article, Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project makes a good point:

“It’s like we set up a whole new Government department, but instead of civil servants paid £40k a year, it’s run by hundreds of private consultants for whom we pay £40k a month.”

That is not responsible use of public funds! Yet the Tories keep presenting themselves to us as the Party of Economic Responsibility.

It simply isn’t true.

They create money by the billion, shovel it out to their cronies and chums, and then tell those of us who don’t use Deloitte’s tax avoidance schemes that we have to pay for it in our tax bills!

It is corrupt; it is a perversion of government. It is exactly the kind of behaviour we have come to expect from Boris Johnson and his people. And it is right that it should be challenged.

Source: Lawyer says £145m Covid contract given to private company with Tory links ‘not lawful’ – Mirror Online

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If Boris Johnson wants to give cash to firms run by his cronies, why should we foot the bill?

Cronies: Dominic Cummings with Boris Johnson, whose government gave hundreds of thousands of pounds to a firm run by a former associate of the former and a woman who co-wrote the latter’s 2019 Conservative election manifesto.

Squirm as it may, Boris Johnson’s government cannot deny giving a hell of a lot of public money to Conservative Party cronies, bypassing the usual tendering system by claiming it is under emergency procedures.

So it cannot suggest it is unreasonable for the courts to investigate whether the process was used properly and the money given to professionals who could carry out the necessary work correctly.

In the case mentioned by the Mirror, it may prove hard to support a claim that the cash was handed over in a proper way.

It went to a firm run by a now-former associate of Dominic Cummings and a woman who co-wrote the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto.

And it is said that more than a quarter of a million pounds of public money was handed over to Public First on the basis of nothing more than a handshake.

According to Cabinet Office records, there seems to be some confusion about what the work entailed, as some of it is stated to be related to Brexit rather than Covid-19.

Public First was also involved in the fiasco in which an algorithm was devised to dictate the grades that ‘A’ level students would receive rather than taking the exams, after being granted a contract that, once again, was not put out to competitive tender.

The algorithm artificially boosted the results of pupils who attended private schools, while state school pupils’ grades plummeted – even in the most promising of cases.

Ofqual boss Sally Collier later resigned – apparently over the decision to provide the contract to Public First.

Prima facie evidence would suggest that there are questions to be asked about the firm’s competence.

And that leads This Writer to the following urgent question:

Given what we know about the nature of money – that it is created by the government and paid into the economy for particular purposes before being taxed out of it again, why should the public as a whole pay back in taxes the cost of an example of Tory Party cronyism that appears to have caused more harm than good?

Source: High Court ‘set to hear from Dominic Cummings’ over controversial Covid contract – Mirror Online

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Better late than never? Labour demand end to Tory ‘crony contracts’ SEVEN MONTHS after they were reported

Should we be applauding Labour’s demand for the Conservative government to stop handing contracts to firms with links to the Conservative Party?

If so, it should be the slow, mocking handclap that denotes disapproval. This move comes no less than seven months after the so-called Tory ‘chumocracy’ was revealed to the nation.

Did Rachel Reeves have to wait for a focus group to say it was okay to talk about this?

I think so.

And her words ring hollow.

She has said that a Labour government would overturn government outsourcing, bringing contracts back into the public sector, reform Freedom of Information rules to include companies who are awarded government contracts, create an ‘Anti-Corruption and anti-cronyism commissioner’ as a check on government contracts.

But we don’t have a Labour government. And the earliest we can now expect to get one is December 2024.

By then, knowing that Labour is now ruled by focus groups and by politicians who might as well be Tories themselves, we must expect all the policies to be different; Starmer Labour changes to reflect whatever it thinks will get it into power.

If Labour really cared about £2 billion of public money going into the hands of amateurs who did nothing with it, Reeves (or whoever) would have spoken out about it last July, when I did.

Doing it now only lays bare the cynicism at the hollow heart of Starmer Labour.

Source: Labour call for clean up of ‘crony contracts’ as £2bn in deals handed to Tory pals – Mirror Online

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#FreeSchoolMeals scandal: ‘£30’ shopping basket provides just ‘£5’ of food because the Tories outsourced provision

Let’s not beat around the bush: your lovable Conservative government led by cuddly Boris Johnson deliberately starved schoolchildren by outsourcing free school meals to a very expensive company – because it was part of the so-called ‘chumocracy’.

The government had promised to provide £30 to feed children for periods lasting 10 days.

But rather than giving vouchers to parents so they could buy the food themselves, or even tasking local authorities to do it, the Department for Education outsourced the job to private, profit-making firms.

One of these firms is called Chartwells. It seems it won the contract as part of the so-called ‘chumocracy’ – it is part of the food service giant Compass Group whose former chairman, Paul Walsh, was once a member of David Cameron’s business advisory group.

Instead of putting all £30 into food hampers for hungry children, it seems Chartwells provided just £5.22 worth of food and kept the remaining £24.78 as profit.

Food parcels have been brought in to replace £30 vouchers given to parents to spend in supermarkets as schools close for remote learning. But one mum valued the contents of her parcel at no more than £5.22, if bought from Asda.

She was given two jacket potatoes, a can of beans, eight single cheese slices, a loaf of bread, two carrots, three apples, two Soreen Malt Lunchbox Loaves, three Frubes, some pasta and one tomato.

Chartwells has protested that it followed Department for Education guidelines – which throws the blame back towards the Tories – but has also admitted that details of the contents of its hampers do not conform with its own specifications.

Whichever way you slice it, someone has been creaming cash from this scheme and allowing children to starve – and the only reason they’ve managed it is because of the Tory obsession with privatisation.

It is a ridiculous state of affairs. Everybody in the Tory government, from Johnson down, knows that giving a contract to a private company means it will keep some of the cash for itself.

So a claim to be providing £30 to feed children is a lie. They were always providing £30 to their friends in food companies.

Sadly, many of the parents whose children are now being forced to starve on pennies-worth of food per day actually voted for this treatment in December 2019.

The question has to be asked: why weren’t vouchers provided to parents?

Was it because another Tory – Ben Bradley – put out a false claim that they would squander the money on “crack dens” and “brothels”, even though the vouchers that existed at the time specifically prohibited their use for such purposes?

It only takes a piece of fake news like this from one influential source to influence large numbers of people into believing the lie, and I wonder whether this was what enabled the Tory government to starve children in the way it has.

Think of it this way: Isn’t it odd that many people get outraged at the (faked) possibility of someone spending a fraction of a food voucher on alcohol (more likely than Bradley’s choices but still impossible) – but don’t bat an eyelid when private firms take 80 per cent of food vouchers for their own profits?

Perhaps the most pertinent comment on this whole shabby affair is the following:

Sadly, it would have been necessary for millions of people to have voted a different way in 2019 for that to have happened. And something stopped them:

Source: Free school meals firm with Tory links shamed over £30 shopping basket | Metro News

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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