Tag Archives: Affairs

Braverman’s migration failures: highest-ever number enter UK despite her closure of legal routes

Speechless: challenged to explain how a teenage refugee from an African country might legally gain asylum in the UK, Suella Braverman had nothing to say.

More than half a million people entered the UK from abroad in the year to the end of June – and Home Secretary Suella Braverman had a meltdown in a Parliamentary Committee when she was forced to try to explain the legal routes for refugees to do so.

So the highest annual migration into the UK since World War II has happened at a time when it should be impossible.

Here’s a news report:

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has said that his main priority is to help Home Secretary Suella Braverman stem the flow of migrants into the UK (despite the fact that they are both, themselves, from families that migrated into the UK).

But they also want to present the UK as a welcoming place.

The latter objective was blown to dust – by one of Sunak and Braverman’s own Conservative Party, Tim Loughton, in the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee, when he asked her a simple question.

The best commentary on it that I have found comes from Novara Media:

This is a government that is trying to do two mutually-exclusive things – and failing at both.

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IEA think tank representative humiliated on live television

The far-right Institute of Economic Affairs think tank has been accused of influencing successive Conservative governments – most particularly the disastrous short-lived administration of Liz Truss.

It is therefore welcome that IEA representative Emily Carver was absolutely destroyed by Labour’s Angela Eagle on the BBC’s Politics Live on Wednesday, November 2.

I actually saw this when it was broadcast and made a mental note to write something about it – but Maximilien Robespierre has beaten me to it and said what I would have, if I’d had the chance.

Watch:

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Economists are losing their minds over Truss and Kwarteng – and look who’s advising them!

Proved correct: this was an accurate prediction, as we can see from the revelation about who is advising Liz Truss – and the reactions of economists to what they have done together.

The Tory government led by Liz Truss is being advised by shady right-wing think tanks like the Institute for Economic Affairs, which seems to exist purely to eliminate so-called ‘big’ government and remove restrictions on business like workers’ rights and environmental protections.

Nobody knows everything about who funds the IEA. But one of its lunatics – I mean representatives – appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to show us all how crazy his organisation is. Take a look:

Meanwhile, professional economists are going absolutely crazy about the disaster that Kwasi Kwarteng has triggered, on the advice of these far-right think tanks (apparently).

Have a listen to what they have to say:

There is a lesson to learn from this:

The Conservatives are NOT the party to trust with the UK economy.

Not now, and never again.

It’s no wonder that Truss and Kwarteng seem to have given up on trying to run the country and are instead abusing their position to funnel money to their richest friends – presumably in the hope that this will give them an escape route when the whole house of cards collapses.

Let’s hope some more Tory MPs grow a backbone and eject them before the damage becomes irreversible.

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#ForeignOffice admits it was wrong to deny #BorisJohnson authorised Afghan animal evacuation

The Foreign Office has admitted misleading MPs over whether Boris Johnson authorised the evacuation of Pen Farthings dog rescue charity Nowzad from Afghanistan last year.

But you won’t realise that from looking at the BBC report!

Foreign Office boss admits error over Afghan animal evacuation reads as though Johnson had nothing to do with it.

And you have to read a long way into the story to discover that Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, was saying that he had not seen emails sent within his department, indicating that Boris Johnson did indeed authorise the evacuation.

If he did, then he lied about it to the media afterwards, when it was suggested that he had prioritised animals over human beings.

People the UK abandoned in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over have since tried to reach this country via the refugee route – crossing the Channel – and this has led to at least one death.

Appearing before the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday, the prime minister’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Nigel Casey was asked if he knew whether the PM had intervened “in the evacuation of Nowzad staff or animals” and replied: “Not to my knowledge.”

In  written evidence to the committee, published on Wednesday, Sir Philip denied that Mr Casey had received “any correspondence referring to the prime minister’s intervention in the Nowzad case”.

This was contradicted in leaked emails published by the committee subsequently.

And BBC Newsnight’s Sima Kotecha has seen two emails with the subject heading “Pen Farthing and dogs”, showing the Foreign Office and Mr Casey sought guidance from No 10 over the issue.

So now Sir Philip has had to write back to the committee, apologising for misleading its members.

But he stuck to the part of the story covering his involvement:

“As Nigel said to the committee on [Tuesday] he has no recollection of having seen emails in which staff attributed this decision to the prime minister. Nor do I.”

Downing Street is saying that the decision may have been interpreted as coming from Johnson when that was not the case – but it has provided no evidence to support this claim.

So Labour’s Chris Bryant, a member of the committee, is well within his rights to say (as he did on BBC Breakfast News): “All I want to know is who made the decision?”

We all want to know that, Chris. At the moment it seems clear that Johnson has lied again and our civil servants are disgracing themselves in their haste to cover up for him.

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Will Starmer’s latest relaunch be undermined – by Jeremy Corbyn? [Also in the news]

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn: in this image, Starmer was preparing to stab Corbyn in the back (metaphorically). Now it seems grassroots Labour members have found a way to do the same to Starmer.

Keir Starmer’s bid to “reinvigorate” his leadership of the Labour Party at this autumn’s conference could be torpedoed by grassroots members – and Jeremy Corbyn.

The party rank-and-files that Starmer has spent the last year trying to marginalise are circulating a motion to give final say on disciplinary action against MPs to the membership at large.

It’s a terrific idea because it would ensure that the leadership couldn’t influence decisions in favour of its favoured (right-wing) members… if ever that should seem attractive to Starmer and his cronies.

But more crippling for Starmer will be the fact that his decision to exclude Corbyn from the Parliamentary Labour Party could be reversed – by the members he hates, ruining his “reinvigoration”:

Also in the news today:

1. Dido Harding will stand down as NHS Improvement boss in October.

It means the organisation’s title may finally stop being a contradiction in terms.

But what part of the national infrastructure will Harding try to blight with her presence next?

2. Thousands of ESA claimants are to receive thousands of pounds in back payments

A four-year review of ESA claims has ended, with thousands of people receiving thousands of pounds.

And the families of many more who have died will receive a £3,000 payout.

But here’s the problem: if they had received that money when they were alive, would they still have died?

3. David Cameron allegedly made millions by cashing in his shares in Greensill before it collapsed.

He had tried to get his former colleagues in the Tory government to invest in the company’s loans, before it collapsed when its insurer refused to renew cover for the same loans.

By that time, we’re told, Cameron had cashed in his own shares in the company, making £7.2 million.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, eh?

4. NHS hospital wards may have been filled with toxins because the government ignored SAGE

Several NHS hospitals have trialled air purification products that could produce dangerous levels of toxins after the government ignored advice from its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to implement new guidelines for air purification systems.

Sage’s environmental modelling group in November urged the Government to draw up “impartial guidance” on air purifiers following a spike in sales during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sage’s advice was repeatedly ignored. Business minister Paul Scully told MPs eight months later, in July, that current trading regulations are adequate to keep consumers safe.

Industry figures raised concerns after several NHS hospitals trialled air purification systems made by decontamination technology firm Airora that could generate potentially dangerous levels of formaldehyde and ozone.

5. The government’s new disability strategy is to carry on pushing people off benefits

“The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Shaping Future Support: the health and disability green paper, released a week before the NDS, confirmed that it has no intention of easing up on its attempts to push disabled people off benefits.”

This is embarrassing for the Tories as it undermines anything in the NDS – or it would, if there was anything to undermine.

The strategy itself seems to be to award empty “accessibility promotion” job titles to non-disabled people.

The issues of most importance to people with disabilities – benefits and social care support – are conspicuous by their absence.

6. DWP is handing Universal Credit information to local councils – to undermine the vulnerable?

Consider this:

… and have them evicted?

7. Right-wing think tank loses complaint over radio comments

This is unfortunate – for the Institute of Economic Affairs:

Am I right in thinking we can all now say that the IEA is a politically-biased hard-right lobby group of questionable provenance, with dubious ideas and validity?

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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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How can we trust the Tory government when its ministers behave like this?

 

Puppet: Matt Hancock mouths the words – but who wrote them? Him? The press barons? Or the IEA?

Matt Hancock is a naughty boy, isn’t he?

It seems his fat ministerial salary isn’t enough for naughty Matt, and he’s been taking donations – from a think tank dedicated to the end of the National Health Service.

And he’s the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The Independent reports that after becoming an MP in 2010, Mr Hancock has received regular donations of between £2,000 and £4,000 from millionaire currency manager and Conservative Party donor Neil Record.

Mr Record heads the board of free market group the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

That organisation has claimed that opponents of its plan to privatise the NHS are really opposed to patients having a choice.

In fact, privatisation would force patients into insurance schemes that are unlikely ever to pay out, meaning patients would end up with no choice at all.

The IEA is a firm fan of such insurance schemes.

And our Health Secretary takes its bribes cash.

We’ll need to watch this one carefully. Will he try to use Brexit to put through his real paymasters’ plan?

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Immigration minister humiliated over information sharing blunder

Caroline Nokes: It seems she prefers horses to human beings.

Caroline Nokes – what a piece of work.

She tried to bluff Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper that she didn’t have the relevant information to deal with a case in which serious defects had been discovered in accommodation for seven asylum-seeking mothers with young children. The house was infested with vermin.

Here’s how the conversation unfolded:

“You didn’t need telepathy; all you needed was a telephone.” I’m no fan of Ms Cooper, but she was absolutely right there.

Ms Nokes’s response – that she “would be very pleased” to receive the information – was belied by her icy expression and body language.

And when Ms Cooper asked, “Might you not have wanted to make that call yourself rather than leaving it for us to do in this public way?” it was telling that Ms Nokes paused for a long time before adding: “I think that is a conversation I need to have with my officials.”

I think we can all tell what that conversation was going to be.

It wasn’t going to be about them failing to get the information she needed to help asylum-seeking mothers.

It was going to be about the fact that Ms Nokes had been made to look a fool in public.

She doesn’t care about those mothers, their children, or the rodent-infested house to which they have been banished.

She didn’t show the slightest interest in their plight, or in helping them out of it.

If she had been interested in such matters, then the problem would have been solved months ago (a damning report had been issued in July).

Remember: This is the Tory minister who defended a policy to accelerate the deportation of hunger-striking women at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.

This is the attitude typical of Conservative ministers in Theresa May’s government.

Their concern is for their own advancement – not for the provision of a service to the public.

They take after their leader in that respect.

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Name benefit recipients if you like – but only alongside all taxpayers’ details

130623nameandshame

I just received this as a comment from Samwise Gamgee, who is a frequent friend of this page. It’s too interesting to leave as a comment so I quote it here in full:

‘Why Osborne must publish the names of every benefits claimant – and how much we pay them: An incendiary idea to save on our £500m A DAY welfare bill’.

“It seems Mark Littlewood, Director General for the Institute of Economic Affairs, wants to name (but not shame, he assures us) everyone in receipt of state benefits, including pensioners. From the article –

‘The welfare benefits claimed by every individual – including pensions, jobseeker’s allowance, bus passes, winter fuel payments and child benefit – should be put in the public domain.

“‘They should be listed, in full, on a publicly accessible website for all of us to inspect. Taxpayers have a right to know exactly who is claiming what and how much they are getting.”

“This mad idea is needed because the welfare bill ‘is ballooning out of control’. So how would such a proposal help reduce the bill? Well Mr Littlewood is clear that this will not be about naming and shaming people, but he does say taxpayers are entitled to know where their money is going (and to whom).

“So draw your own conclusions. I certainly have!”

The logical reply to that is, if taxpayers are entitled to know where their money is going, then everyone should be entitled to know where it originated.

In other words, by all means publish names and details of benefit recipients but, before this happens, let’s see the names and details of all taxpayers, including total earnings per year (before any tax avoidance schemes get into them) and the total amount of tax they pay.

The findings should make very interesting reading.

But do you know what?

If publishing the latter list is a precondition of publishing the former, I doubt anything will happen about it.