Tag Archives: alcohol

If Matt Hancock has broken his own 10pm pub curfew, why should YOU honour it?

Matt Hancock – and the best word to describe him.

So much for the 10pm pub curfew. Once again, it seems, the Tories have led by example – if it’s okay for them to break it, it’s okay for you to break it too.

According to the Mail, of all papers, Matt Hancock – the Health Secretary who championed lockdown measures like the curfew – was caught breaking it after a late-evening vote:

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was last night accused of breaking his own Covid curfew by drinking in a Commons bar beyond 10pm – where he made a crass joke about the Government’s test and trace failings.

Mr Hancock arrived at the bar just before a 9.40pm vote, ordered a glass of white wine and announced: ‘The drinks are on me – but Public Health England are in charge of the payment methodology so I will not be paying anything.’

His ill-conceived joke came after he had tried to explain to the Commons why the quango had lost nearly 16,000 positive coronavirus tests – a fiasco which Labour claimed had put ‘lives at risk’.

A senior Tory MP told The Mail on Sunday that Mr Hancock remained in the Smoking Room bar until at least 10.25pm, despite Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle insisting that Commons venues must abide by the same 10pm drink-up-and-leave curfew as all English pubs.

A spokesperson for Hancock has tried to explain away what happened, but the comment lacks something – namely any explanation of where Hancock was after 10pm on the evening in question:

In a carefully worded statement last night, a spokesman for the Health Secretary said: ‘No rules have been broken.

‘The Secretary of State was in the Smoking Room prior to the vote that evening.

‘The Secretary of State left the Smoking Room to vote. The vote took place at 9:42pm. ‘The Secretary of State then departed the Parliamentary estate to go home.’

Asked whether Mr Hancock had returned to the bar after voting and before he went home, the spokesman failed to respond.

Doesn’t that tend to indicate that he had?

The public verdict is out already:

But the story was omitted from mention on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today (October 11) – for no apparent reason:

I publish this tweet also, as it links Hancock with the acts of other Tories:

The practical upshot of all this is that Hancock has provided us all with an excuse to drink – in pubs – after the 10pm curfew.

If it’s okay for the Health Secretary to carry on drinking in the Smoking Bar of Parliament, it is clearly fine for the rest of us to do the same.

That’s leadership by example.

And if we all do it, there’s nothing the Tories or the police can do about it.

Yes – there is the question of public safety. But the government has never provided a scrap of evidence that drinking in pubs between 10pm and 11pm actually increases the risk of catching Covid-19 to those involved.

And there needs to be accountability.

If these arrogant, unaccountable Tories keep breaking their own rules, they need to see that we will ignore those rules as well. We are all in this together.

Source: Matt Hancock makes tasteless Covid test joke in Commons bar as he ‘joined MPs flouting 10pm curfew’ | Daily Mail Online

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Why are Tory MPs manufacturing outrage that parents want the government to feed their children? They expect the same!

Ben Bradley: you’d think he would learn to keep his mouth shut after he called for poor people to be forced to have vasectomies and libelled Jeremy Corbyn.

How many MPs are claiming expenses to cover the costs of having children?

This Writer doesn’t have the current figures but in 2013 I know 148 of them were claiming extra money to rent larger homes and cover the cost of youngsters’ travel.

According to the Daily Mirror at the time, MPs had claimed around £140,000 for kids’ travel between 2010 and 2013.

And Parliamentary standards watchdog IPSA was allowing MPs to increase the maximum allowance they could claim by £2,425 for each child they said lived with them.

Some MPs – including nine cabinet ministers – were claiming more than £10,000 extra.

I mention this because certain Conservative MPs have been kicking up a fuss about the comparatively small amount – per person – that will go towards extending free school meals throughout the summer holidays in England.

Tory Sally-Ann Hart seemed to think it was wrong for parents to “expect” the government to feed their children, even though she is part of a government whose members expect their own childcare to be paid by the public and not from their own pay packets.

I find this part particularly interesting:

[She] said MPs must “not shy away” from the issue that some parents “just do not or cannot prioritise their children’s needs over their own”.

And she said the Government must “turbocharge” its efforts to understand why such neglect happens.

Perhaps Ms Hart should turn to some of her neighbours on the Green Benches and ask them – just as a starting-point?

As responses from the public go, I don’t think you’ll find one better than this:

Another Tory – Ben Bradley – demanded safeguards to ensure that parents could not use free school meal vouchers to obtain alcohol and cigarettes.

Fine words from a man who belongs to an institution where people like himself frequently run up huge bills at the various Parliamentary bars, on expenses.

In fact, some of them have even refused to pay altogether.

But Ms Hart and Mr Bradley – who is also on record as calling for poor men to be vasectomised, and had to apologise publicly and pay money to charity after libelling Jeremy Corbyn – don’t seem to be aware of these facts.

Perhaps they should examine behaviour closer to their own homes, rather than accusing people before they’ve even had a chance to do anything wrong.

Source: Tory MP says some parents ‘expect the government to feed their children’ – Mirror Online

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The SNP government is drifting towards authoritarianism

Stronger for Scotland: The SNP government is heading in an ever more authoritarian direction [Image: politics.co.uk].

I’m publishing quite a long extract from this politics.co.uk article, in anticipation of a knee-jerk backlash from supporters of the SNP.

Nationalist parties tend to be authoritarian, so many of these developments may be no surprise to informed commentators.

But is this really what the people of Scotland thought they were getting when the SNP promised to fight for freedom from the United Kingdom?

It may seem inappropriate to compare the SNP with right-wing nationalist governments in Poland or Hungary. Unfortunately as the Scottish government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, heads in an ever more authoritarian direction, such comparisons are increasingly justified.

Examples of this tendency range from the trivial to the far more serious. Most recently, Donald Trump’s comments about Muslim immigrants, led to calls from the SNP for him to be banned from entering the country as a “hate preacher”. While many may agree with this, the former SNP leader Alex Salmond went one step further. He not only endorsed a ban, but said Scotland should be banning ‘all Donald Trumps’. It reminds me of a nightclub bouncer compiling a list of undesirables who aren’t allowed entry on a Saturday night. It would be interesting to see Salmond’s list of who should and shouldn’t be allowed into the country.

It’s not just differing views which the SNP are uncomfortable with, but differing lifestyles. The Scottish government are currently seeking to ban the sale of cheap alcohol in an attempt to control the behaviour of Scottish drinkers. Unlike the English or Welsh who have resisted such moves, the SNP believe we Scots can’t be trusted with cheap alcohol. The only reason it’s not in force is because the EU court raised concerns about restrictions on free trade.

A more sinister development is the SNP plan for a named person or ‘state guardian’ for every child. This will grant the state unprecedented powers over families. Proponents of the law advocate that it provides a point of contact for families. But the status quo already has various routes for families needing support. The real change is the Scottish Government having arbitrary and intrusive powers into every family in Scotland. Former chairman of Scotland’s Children Panel Advisory Group Joe Knight described it as “an erosion of parental rights and responsibilities.”

The disturbing point is not just that every child will have a named person intervening in their lives, but the SNP presumption that every child needs such a person. On this issue as on many others of personal responsibility, the SNP government is convinced it knows best.

The SNP’s super ID database is even more troubling. It’s not exactly clear how our private information would be monitored under the scheme, but filling in an innocuous form at your local NHS dentist could result in the information being circulated to 120 public bodies, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Privacy campaigners have called on the Scottish government to ditch the scheme, as it will allow widespread data mining and profiling. Tellingly, the proposals are not being treated as primary legislations and are being forced through without parliamentary debate. On this issue as well, the SNP are allowing little dissent.

Arguably, the most authoritarian development of all is the SNP’s passing of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act. Under this law, fans’ behaviour must be monitored in order to see whether it merits an arrest. Yet so broad is the legislation that fans can be questioned and even arrested simply for the clothes they’re wearing, or the songs they’re singing.

The SNP’s approach to Donald Trump and football fans is remarkably similar. Rather than enlighten, persuade or educate, they opt for the lazy illiberal option of simply banning them.

Source: The SNP government is drifting towards authoritarianism

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Cameron’s Conservatives welcome increased poverty in the UK

130617childpoverty

If David Cameron wants to tell us the current definition of child poverty is a bad one, he’s probably right. The problem is, his preferred changes to that definition will probably be worse.

Poverty is currently defined according to whether a household’s income is less than 60 per cent of the national average. So during a recession, when most incomes (apart from those of the very rich) drop, poverty actually appears to decrease.

Now, despite there having been no appreciable rise in incomes across the board, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is forecasting a rise in child poverty from 2.3 million to 2.5 million – that’s 200,000 more children in poverty, as it is currently measured.

For David Cameron, this is a disaster because it shows that – even with the help of the silly sliding-scale definition of poverty, his government is worsening the situation for children across the UK. What an evil man. What an evil government.

His solution, it seems, is to revive plans to change the way child poverty is defined, to ensure that all those children who have fallen on hard times since he came into office (in 2010, not this year – we, at least, can be honest about the effect he is having) may be dismissed from the poverty figures even if they don’t have food to eat or clothes to wear.

The thought of taking action to stop children falling into poverty probably hasn’t even occurred to David Cameron.

It seems he discussed the matter on Tuesday morning with Nicky Morgan, our dunce of an education secretary, Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister they keep in a back room in case he frightens children, and Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary who models his behaviour on the Nazis – any of his solutions are likely to be final.

(In fact, the £12 billion cuts being planned for the Gentleman Ranker’s welfare budget are likely to be fatal to a huge number of people in any case.)

The Guardian‘s report on this points out that “a little-noticed line in the Conservative party’s general election manifesto said the government would “work to eliminate child poverty and introduce better measures to drive real change in children’s lives, by recognising the root causes of poverty: entrenched worklessness, family breakdown, problem debt, and drug and alcohol dependency”.

So the manifesto plan is: Blame the parents.

What are they going to do, then – sanction them (take money away)?

Already popular organisations are starting to line up against the government. Alison Garnham of the Child Poverty Action Group took an early shot at Cameron’s claim to be running a ‘One Nation’ government (a slogan he stole back from Labour after the general election).

“You can’t have one nation if children’s lives, opportunities and life chances at every turn are shaped and limited by poverty,” she said. “The government’s child poverty approach is failing but the prime minister’s speech [on Monday] simply missed the point and failed to set out what his government will do to prevent his legacy being the largest rise in child poverty in a generation.

“It is no good pulling bodies out of the river, without going upstream to see who is throwing them in – especially, if turns out the culprit is government policy. The right choices that would reduce poverty include protecting children’s benefits with the same triple-lock protection pensions enjoy, fixing the deep cuts to tax credit help for the low-paid, tackling cripplingly high rents, high childcare costs and expanding free school meals.”

These things will not happen under a Conservative government. There’s no profit in it for them because children – unlike pensioners, for example – don’t vote.

So, in simple terms, this is the situation:

Child poverty is rising.

The Conservative Party intends to pretend that it isn’t happening by fudging a new definition of poverty.

The Conservative Party will do nothing to tackle the real causes.

What conclusion can we reach?

The Conservative Government welcomes increased poverty in the UK.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Is Farage more out-of-touch than the Tories?

Hooray Henry? Nigel Farage sends himself up - or perhaps he really is like this [Image: Independent].

Hooray Henry? Nigel Farage sends himself up – or perhaps he really is like this [Image: Independent].

Politics must be completely corrupt if Nigel Farage is accurate in his claim that he doesn’t know anybody in politics as poor as himself and his wife.

Don’t sharpen the knives yet – it doesn’t seem likely.

He makes his claim during a new Channel 4 documentary, Steph and Dom Meet Nigel Farage, in which the UKIP leader – who will contest the South Thanet seat in Kent next May – chats over drinks with the ‘posh’ couple from Gogglebox.

It’s an extraordinary remark, considering he once claimed his salary and expenses as an MEP were worth £250,000 a year (£3.75 million so far), while his wife – also on the EU payroll – makes £30,000 per annum.

His current official salary is £79,000, plus office allowances of £42,600 a year. His wife’s salary brings the total up to £109,000 per year, according to The Independent.

According to that paper, “The UKIP leader says he only has one ‘small semi-detached house in the country’, that he does not drive a ‘flash car’, and that he and Kirsten Farage ‘don’t have expensive holidays, we haven’t done for 10 years’.”

He should tell that to people living in fear of eviction from their flats because of the bedroom tax, who have never had a car of any kind and must rely on sketchy public transport services instead, and who have not had a holiday of any kind since before the Coalition came into office.

What response do you think he’d get?

His household earnings of £2,096 per week are more than four times as much as those of the average UK full-time employee (£517pw) and that house of his is said to be worth £540,000 alone.

He doesn’t understand poverty. In the documentary he falls down steps and smashes a glass of champagne. Champagne!

In a Radio Times interview about the show, Farage says he had drunk two-and-a-half pints in the pub with the couple, and then enjoyed a “steady consumption” of five or six glasses of wine and champagne. He goes on to blame the smashed glass on his injuries from the plane crash in which he was involved on the day of the 2010 general election (which itself tells you a great deal about his lifestyle).

It’s a good story because – like David Cameron’s use of his late son in defending the Coalition’s cuts to the NHS – it stops others from questioning him as that would suggest a lack of respect for what he went through.

However, Vox Political doesn’t believe it’s true for a moment – unless Farage is blaming his incessant (in the media) alcohol consumption on the crash.

Isn’t it more likely to have been because his lifestyle owes more to the Hooray Henries of the 1980s than the White Van Man of today?

Cameron – corrupt corporate whore, according to Meacher

A corporate whore servicing one of his clients: Apparently they're normally called 'Johns', but in the high-paid corporate whoring world they're known as 'Ruperts'. Both of them. Silly Ruperts.

A corporate whore servicing one of his clients: Apparently they’re normally called ‘Johns’, but in the high-paid corporate whoring world they’re known as ‘Ruperts’. Both of them. Silly Ruperts.

It seems opponents of the Coalition have realised its degraded claim to be a government is worthless and have decided to pour contempt on it at every opportunity.

I mention this after seeing Michael Meacher’s excellent column on David Cameron. The fake Prime Minister’s instincts, according to Mr Meacher are “that there is no such thing as the rule of law, and that the only things that ultimately matter are power, fear and money”.

These words should come as hammer-blows to Cameron’s credibility. It is to his credit that Michael Meacher has written them – but also to the shame of the Labour front bench that none of them had the guts to come out with it first.

Mr Meacher supports his claims by laying out a wealth of evidence that, while the comedy PM crows on and on about Labour’s (non-existent) pandering to the unions, “there is almost nothing… that Cameron won’t do, no commercial interest he will disdain, no policy he will refuse to alter if it will ingratiate himself with the sources of money and power… He has prostrated himself before a wide range of commercial interests by changing government policy to suit them in order to recruit their money and power for himself and his party in the lead-up to 2015”.

He supports his assertions as follows:

1. Cameron was determined to hand BSkyB to Rupert Murdoch, in exchange for support for the next general election (he failed in this attempt).

2. He ditched plans to remove branding from cigarette packaging. It has emerged that his advisor Lynton Crosby’s company lobbies on behalf of tobacco giant Philip Morris International.

3. Soon after Crosby was hired by Cameron, the government dropped plans for a minimum alcohol price. Crosby’s Australian company has represented an alcohol industry group campaigning heavily against similar plans in that country.

4. Crosby’s company also represents an oil and gas lobby group that campaigns aggressively for fracking, so now the UK government is encouraging fracking with tax breaks for the companies involved.

5. Crosby’s UK company represented rebel forces in Syria for six months, which may explain Cameron’s decision to send weapons to the rebels (but again failed in the attempt, thanks to a rare outbreak of sanity in the House of Commons).

The government will no doubt try to counter these arguments but there is no credible way of doing so. We are able to judge our politicians by what they do – not what they say – and the evidence is available for all to see.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s change the pitch of news reporting this summer. Instead of the usual ‘silly season’, let’s make it open season on Cameron and his cronies. Let’s get all the evidence against them together and make it clear to the general public, via all possible avenues, what a craven cadre of corrupt corporate prostitutes they all are.

It shouldn’t be too hard.