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Starmer’s strategy for his party becomes clear – and it is everything Labour should NOT be

You may be wondering about the image above.

Well, I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation during lockdown (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!) and it seems to me that Keir Starmer is trying to turn the Labour Party into a 21st-century version of the Borg Collective, an alien race from that famous science fiction TV show.

In the show, the Borg travel the universe assimilating other races into their collective, either killing or subduing the leaders and absorbing the population by using cybernetic implants to impose their will.

Among their catchphrases was the line: “You will adapt to service us.”

That is exactly what Keir Starmer and his Parliamentary colleagues seem to be saying to Constituency Labour Parties across the UK with their new initiative to get rank-and-file members using the “Dialogue” phone banking app.

This incentive scheme demands that members call up voters in their constituencies to get as much information about which way people will vote as possible (and get them to vote Labour).

Constituency parties making the most calls will receive rewards – if you can call them that – which mostly involve congratulatory messages from party leader Keir Starmer, deputy leader Angela Rayner or some other shadow cabinet member.

The presentation makes it seem that CLP members should consider such contact a great honour and privilege from celebrities, in comparison with whom the rank-and-file members should consider themselves to be nothing more than functionaries whose only reason for existence is to serve.

Do you see why I am comparing Starmer’s new version of Labour with the Borg now?

The shift in emphasis has not gone unnoticed:

And the contrast with the previous Labour leader could not have been more apparent:

The other aspect of the Borg comparison is the elimination or co-option of leaders who might otherwise oppose the ruling cadre.

Isn’t that what we’ve been seeing since Starmer was elected, in April?

Prominent figures who might otherwise undermine the entitled few have been smeared, accused, suspended and expelled; their names blackened with slanders they find themselves ill-equipped to fight because the party manipulates it own rules to undermine the accused.

In short, while Starmer can’t actually have them killed, these people have been eliminated as any realistic opposition.

So there you have it.

Worse than any comparison with fantasy monsters, though, is the obvious correlation with real-world creatures that no Labour member should want to be seen imitating, even in death.

I refer, of course, to Tories.

In setting himself up as a member of a ruling class within the Labour Party, and demanding that CLP members be reduced to carrying out simple functions for their masters in Parliament (or who have been chosen from a highly-select group of party elites to stand for election), Starmer is re-modelling Labour to resemble the Conservative Party.

Shouldn’t that be the cardinal sin, as far as Labour is concerned?

He certainly isn’t impressing anybody with his choices.

Today he announced that he had co-opted former prime minister – and New Labour stalwart – Gordon Brown to support his plot to restore Labour’s popularity in Scotland (and the other UK nations) by devolving more power outside Westminster.

And when he broadcast a big speech about it, Starmer sank, almost without trace. Fewer than 2,500 people bothered to watch – and many of them were probably members of the press.

Maybe today wasn’t the day for this.

Or maybe the target audience had had enough of Starmer’s arrogance and entitlement.

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Should anyone be surprised that Brexit will cost more than Covid – in the long term?

This Writer’s initial reaction to Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey’s claim that a no-deal Brexit will cost more than Covid was:

Is that because most of the cost of Covid was due to short-term profiteering by Tory crony companies?

The cost to the UK of this nonsense is short-term, though; when the pandemic is finally under control, the profiteers won’t have an opportunity to screw any more cash out of the Treasury.

But the loss of the free trade deals the UK enjoyed as a member of the European Union will have long-term effects that may last many years:

LSE modelling estimates a reduction in GDP worth 8% over a decade compared with remaining in the EU.

Asked about the research, Bailey said economic models suggested there would be long-term consequences, as it could take a long time for the UK to adjust to a new trading relationship. “It takes a much longer period of time for the real side of the economy to adjust to the change in openness and change in the profile of trade,” he said.

Bailey was talking about the effects of a “no-deal” Brexit but be warned that even a deal will place the UK at a disadvantage.

Source: No-deal Brexit to cost more than Covid, Bank of England governor says | Politics | The Guardian

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Businesswoman rationed daughter’s food after falling through cracks in government help

Closed: while lockdowns bit into small traders’ funds, government help has been restricted only to those that meet arbitrary criteria – meaning many are going hungry, along with their children.

This is the reality of Covid-19 for millions of self-employed people across the UK.

The government trumpeted huge amounts of funding for scheme to keep businesses open – but failed to mention the small print that means some businesses don’t qualify.

It’s as though the pandemic was being used for political reasons – to clamp down on small enterprises and their owners. Isn’t it?

Jo Hill, of Cardiff, was denied any support because her business had only two years of profit on its books.

She had to rely on food banks and borrowed money to survive.

The money I have earned I have had to use for food for myself and my daughter. She’s growing like a bean pole, I couldn’t afford to buy her shoes over lockdown. At times we were so skint food was rationed, I’ve had to be really careful.

When the Chancellor announced [support for self-employed businesses] I breathed a massive sigh of relief. I was applying and it would say I’m not entitled, I was quite bewildered. The money should have gone to everybody.

“I’m too scared to spend any money at all since I don’t know what will happen in the future and how long that money will last. There have been times I couldn’t afford a food shop, I don’t know if my budget is going to last two weeks, three weeks.

The Welsh government has announced business support worth £1.7 billion to firms across the country.

And a fat lot of good it will do to single traders like Ms Hill if they don’t qualify because of arcane eligibility standards.

Source: Mum-of-two forced to ration 12-year-old daughter’s food after support cut off – Mirror Online

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Covid class war: Tories are forcing food poverty through the roof as poor people face risk of poisoning

Tory legacy: attendance at food banks has doubled due to the Conservatives’ handling of Covid-19.

How is Fat Boris Johnson going to justify his silly campaign to make people eat more healthily when so many of us are getting money from food banks, or buying the cheapest (and therefore least healthy) available because we can’t afford anything else?

A new report by the Food Standards Agency has revealed that the Covid-19 crisis – and the Conservative government’s decisions relating to it – have caused a huge increase in referrals to food banks.

Because the Tories couldn’t be bothered to ensure the financial security of the population at large, one-tenth of the UK’s poorest people are now using foodbanks, with huge numbers of people skipping meals.

Malnutrition and obesity are rife as people have been forced to cut out healthy foods in favour of “basic sustenance” diets.

People actually voted to inflict this on their fellow UK citizens and their children.

The FSA’s research tells us that the number of people in food insecurity in the UK – experiencing hunger, unable to secure food of sufficient quality and quantity to enable good health and social participation, and cutting down on food because of a lack of money – has doubled due to the Covid crisis. And it was high in the first place.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, around 16 per cent of adults experienced it – around 7.8 million people.

The government that the people elected last December has used the Covid crisis to double this figure. Now, around 15.6 million adults are in food insecurity.

So when the FSA says 10 per cent of respondents visited a food bank in June, this represents more than 1.5 million people.

And we know food banks have been struggling to find stock in the face of this demand, at a time when everybody has lost money apart from the super-rich (most of whom couldn’t care less about you).

The survey found that 23 per cent of people aged 16-24 had been forced to access food through a charity or food bank – but no figures were provided to show how many people that figure represents.

The only other group experiencing as much food insecurity was households with a child.

So the Tories have ensured that poor children are starving – even after having been knocked back in their plan to deny free school meals to poor kids during the holidays by footballer Marcus Rashford’s high-profile shaming.

If you are still in doubt that these findings are evidence of a Tory war against the poor, consider this, from the Guardian article about the FSA findings:

For the better off, Covid-19 has for many provided nutritional benefits, the FSA noted, with its tracker survey showing more people cooking at home from scratch using healthy ingredients rather than having takeaways or buying processed meals, as well as enjoying more family meals together.

These benefits were largely denied to people in food insecurity, whose diet narrowed sharply and was biased towards cheap carbohydrates like rice and pasta. One man, the FSA study found, “ate mostly tinned peas on toast; another woman mostly bread.” Many showed “early signs” of malnutrition. Others put on weight.

Many people … reported regularly eating food beyond its use-by date … Over a quarter said they drank milk that was past its use-by date. “Stretching out” food in this way put them at risk of food poisoning.

So the rich have become healthier while the poor are in danger of being poisoned.

This is due to decisions made by your Conservative government, which they say were necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

And they are inflicting it on people they persuaded into voting for them.

Source: UK’s poorest ‘skip meals and go hungry’ during coronavirus crisis | UK news | The Guardian

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Bank of England pumps £100bn into UK economy – but who gets the money?

Money: the Bank of England has pumped £100 billion into the UK economy to ease the strain caused by the Covid-19 crisis – but you won’t see a single penny of it. In fact, you are more likely to be asked to pay back the investment.

This is a wake-up call.

If you’ve seen reports that the Bank of England is bailing out the UK economy with £100 billion of what’s called QE (quantitative easing), you may have been lulled into a belief that everything’s going to be fine.

You would be mistaken.

The UK economy has taken a pounding because of the Covid-19 crisis. We are currently in the grip of an economic recession that makes the 2008/9 financial crisis look like the temporary misplacement of a back-pocket fiver.

In March, the economy shrank by around six per cent. In April, it shrank by a further 20.4 per cent. This Site doesn’t have numbers for May and June.

That meant 600,000 people lost their jobs between March and May. Many more found themselves suffering 20 per cent pay cuts as they were put on the government’s furlough scheme.

Employers were also put under extreme pressure as they have to pay what’s known as “overheads” – rent/mortgage on the land/buildings they use, power, supplies if they are perishable, and so on.

It is an established economic fact that money pumped into a financial system has a far more beneficial effect, if it goes to the poorest people – those who were hardest-hit by the current crisis, as they were by the financial crisis of 2008/9 before this.

They didn’t see a single penny of the QE that came into the economy after the recession of 11/12 years ago, and they won’t see a penny of the new £100 billion.

In fact, they’ll be told to pay back the cash that the government has provided for them, even though they’ve been given less than enough to survive comfortably as it is.

If This Writer recalls correctly, QE for the financial crisis went no further than the large financial institutions the Bank of England deals with on a day-to-day basis.

These would then lend the money to businesses and other organisations, with a view towards receiving the cash back – with interest – in the future.

The businesses then increase the prices of their goods while depressing the pay they give their workers.

Have you spotted the reason this won’t work?

Source: Coronavirus: Bank pumps £100bn into UK economy to aid recovery – BBC News

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Struggling food banks move towards home deliveries. Why not deliver government packages?

Food bank: they’re struggling in the coronavirus crisis, and diversifying into home delivery. Why not link up with the government, which is doing the same?

Duplication is a waste of effort.

But it seems both the government and the food bank network are arranging deliveries to people who have become vulnerable, including because of the coronavirus crisis.

Why don’t they just work together?

Many [food banks] are attempting to switch gears and move into the home delivery of emergency food packages.

Food banks across the UK are struggling to stay open as the coronavirus outbreak continues to cause a sharp decline in volunteers and a shortage of food donations.

It comes as a new survey revealed the scale of the hunger crisis facing Britain. Some 1.5 million people reported not eating for a whole day during the first three weeks of lockdown, according to a YouGov poll for The Food Foundation.

[In the new system,] drivers deliver to people struggling with job losses, cuts in income or difficultly getting outside for health reasons.

Source: Help the Hungry: Food banks move towards home deliveries amid struggle to keep doors open | The Independent

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Bank’s Universal Credit delay means dilemma for single mum

This is the problem with a benefit that puts people too close to starvation.

When a fault at Clydesdale Bank meant her £410 Universal Credit payment was delayed by up to a week, single mum Megan Devine, of Glasgow, was left with no money to feed herself and her baby daughter Mairead, or to heat their home.

Her family can’t help as they don’t have any money to spare either.

It’s the kind of cock-up that puts lives at risk – for no reason.

Some might question how an 18-year-old woman has managed to get into such a situation in the first place – but it is not our place to sit in judgement on others. We don’t know the circumstances.

All we know is that the Tory-run system has failed another person in need, and the consequences could be catastrophic.

Source: Single mum left with £0 to feed baby daughter after bank causes Universal Credit delay – Mirror Online

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Labour would halt RBS privatisation – in return for investment

 

This looks like Labour’s plan for a national investment bank, writ smaller.

A Labour government would halt privatisation because it would not profit the state. This makes perfect sense – far more than the current Tory plan to sell to the rich at a loss for the poor.

But the offer is only to delay continued privatisation of RBS – and only if the bank commits itself to lending money to the regions, and to small businesses.

For This Writer, it is not enough. RBS played a large part in the financial crisis of 2008 and it would be fitting if that bank were kept in public ownership and made to put right the damage it caused.

Put the Tories in Labour’s place, with a similar kind of offer, and I’d be calling them liars. History shows that Conservatives will say what they think others want to hear, to get them on-side. Then they renege on the deal.

I wouldn’t mind at all if Labour reneged on this one and turned RBS into a part of – or the basis of – the National Investment Bank in the party’s manifesto.

But Labour is not the Conservative Party and I have a feeling this is a sincere offer. But will the RBS bankers – and their shareholders – share my belief?

[The] Labour party would halt the privatisation of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) if it came to power but would not seek to exert day-to-day control, the opposition party’s shadow banking minister told Reuters.

RBS shareholders voted on Wednesday to approve the bank’s plans to begin buying back its shares from the government in order to accelerate a return to majority private ownership, with more than 98 percent backing the proposal.

RBS remains 62 percent owned by British taxpayers after a £45 billion bailout in the 2008 financial crisis, although the Conservative government has conducted two share sales as it looks to return it to private ownership.

The government’s two RBS equity sales so far have crystallised deep losses for British taxpayers on shares that have almost halved in value since the bank’s rescue.

“If RBS is now paying dividends, and the price of the shares is under what was paid, we cannot see the rationale for selling more shares,” said Labour’s Jonathan Reynolds.

Having previously suggested full nationalization of RBS, Labour has been rowing back as it seeks to build bridges to the City of London and ease concerns about a Labour-led Britain.

The extent of state involvement would depend on RBS’ willingness to increase lending to Britain’s regions and small businesses.

“We don’t have a policy of day-to-day control of RBS,” he said. “But there is clearly unmet demand in lending and a problem with financial inclusion.”

Source: Britain’s Labour says it would halt RBS privatization


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Would YOU accept a £50 note with Margaret Thatcher’s face on it? [POLL]

Horror: An artist’s impression of how a Thatcher-themed £50 note might appear.

It seems the competition to be the face on the back of the new £50 note has come down to contenders including Stephen Hawking and Margaret Thatcher.

According to the Bank of England, the intention is for the space to be occupied by a scientist.

The late Professor Hawking certainly qualifies.

But you could be forgiven for wondering what Mrs Thatcher’s contribution may have been.

Curious: It seems Facebook won’t accept the image at the top of this article for use in links to it. Will it accept this one?

I’ll tell you: She was part of a team who devised a way of injecting air into ice cream to make it look like there is more of it than there actually is – she used science to create a commercial cheat that would induce people to pay more for less.

I recall Alan Turing was in the running for this honour at one point. Why has a cheat like Mrs Thatcher been shortlisted, while a man who (arguably) shortened World War II by several years has not?

It seems strange reasoning by the Bank of England.

And I wonder how many people would want to use a banknote with the former – and much-hated – Conservative prime minister on it? Some might consider her image to be defacing the currency.

What do you think?

Personally, I wouldn’t have such an item in my house.

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Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook