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Sunak and Truss: Tory leader battle is a ‘greatest flops’ race between failed policies

Sunak and Truss: they may seem to be arguing but in fact their aim is the same: tax cuts. Their only difference is in strategy.

What new hell is this?

After nearly three weeks working on my libel trial and dealing with the fallout from it, I finally turned back to politics to find that the Conservative leadership election has come down to a race between these two deadbeats: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

Sunak is a busted flush because we know his tax history is dodgy, and his performance as Chancellor even dodgier. While he recognised the need to support the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, his choices did nothing but make matters worse and he shares the blame with Boris Johnson for the severity of the UK’s death toll and the depth of the recession that followed.

Truss, on the other hand, is simply barking mad. I’m not even referring to her now-infamously crazed comments about cheese; she has surpassed them with her increasingly strenuous attempts to get Vladimir Putin to nuke the UK until the glow can be seen from New York.

Sadly, nobody seems to be taking these piddling details into account. How about their economic policies, then – both of which come across as a recitation of recent Tory leaders’ greatest flops.

From Sunak, we get The Big Lie. I’ve been writing about this since sometime around 2013; it’s the idea that, if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it. The Nazis stole it from us in the 1930s and now the Tories have stolen it back.

In this case, the lie is that reducing the UK’s financial deficit is the only goal of government economic policy, rather than improving the well-being of UK citizens.

To achieve this, like George Osborne before him, he would limit public spending – because he does not understand the vital role the public sector plays in producing a healthy and efficient economy. Any good news on the deficit would be translated into tax cuts.

From Truss, we get Starving The Beast – a George W Bush economic policy from the bad old days of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). I’ve been writing about this since the earliest days of Vox Political, back in 2012. It was a stinker then and the smell has become no better over time!

According to Mainly Macro‘s Simon Wren-Lewis,

her policy is to raise borrowing to sufficiently high levels such that at some point a deficit crisis will be declared, the answer to which is of course spending cuts… So while Sunak aims to keep to deficit targets and cut taxes in good times, Truss plans to cut taxes now so spending is cut in a future manufactured deficit crisis.

Starving the beast involves not just one big lie, but a whole series of untruths. Voters are being told that tax cuts will not raise demand and therefore inflationary pressure, and will also pay for themselves. When both fail to happen after the next election voters will be told that the high interest rates that tax cuts have made inevitable and a larger deficit has nothing to do with tax cuts, but is all the fault of a bloated public sector.

So you can see that the choice of replacement for Boris Johnson, the worst liar the UK government has seen in decades, is between two more liars.

And the Tory faithful will lap it up because both candidates are offering what they want: tax cuts and lower public spending.

These are the people who believed every bit of nonsense pushed on them by the Brexit press.

Whichever candidate they support, they will be voting to destroy the quality of the public services on which you rely, and to cause further harm to the national economy, and therefore your quality of life.

Neither Sunak nor Truss can win a general election and I think they both know it.

So I tend to agree with Professor Wren-Lewis’s conclusion, as well:

Expect no progress on reversing the damage the Conservatives have done to the UK economy over the last twelve years whichever of the two candidates becomes Prime Minister. Instead the only relevant question is how much more damage each can do until the next general election.

Source: mainly macro: Sunak vs Truss: a battle between two failed economic policies

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#OperationSaveBigDog? No, Tories. Take him to the vet & have him put down, for his sake and ours

Treacherous cur: Boris Johnson is pictured next to Martin Reynolds at the Downing Street garden party on May 15, 2020, a bottle of booze on the table next to them. Now, it seems Johnson wants Reynolds to take the rap for the parties, to save the prime minister’s pointless career.

It’s exactly as we all thought. Rather than accept responsibility for creating a culture of corruption at Downing Street in which employees were encouraged to have parties while the rest of the UK lived in isolation, Boris Johnson is going to scapegoat the staff.

It seems he has drawn up a list of colleagues he intends to throw under the bus in order to save his own worthless career.

They include Martin Reynolds, the private secretary who invited 100 people to a party in the Downing Street garden on May 20, 2020 and with whom Johnson is pictured at a party in the Downing Street garden on May 15, 2020.

Apparently he’s calling it “Operation save Big Dog”. Here are the details.

One has to question why Johnson thinks pretending other people are responsible for the attitude of contempt for the rules that he created will help him – for a very obvious reason.

The latest story has it that Downing Street staff were having drinks parties every week during lockdown – as suggested by Johnson. The Mirror called it “Boris Johnson’s wine time Fridays“.

The staff scapegoating plan hasn’t gone down well among the political community:

… Or indeed among the public:

If I was one of the staff members being pressurised to quit so Boris Johnson can save a career that isn’t worth saving, I’d be handing my phone full of lockdown-busting party invitations to the investigators – after using it to call the Mirror, the Torygraph and all the other members of the press pack who are baying for prime ministerial blood.

This is one “Big Dog” who needs to be put out of our misery.

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Do these politicians know their comments on Riley-related Big Issue boycott ARE NOT TRUE?

Ian Austin: Did the Mail mislead him into believing that people who oppose Rachel Riley’s claims about anti-Semitism want to penalise the homeless?

Unlikely though it seems, This Writer is going to be charitable to two hard-right political headbangers.

Former Labour MP, now Lord Ian Austin has said people who said they would boycott The Big Issue after it published a one-sided article about Rachel Riley and anti-Semitism in the Labour Party were “a complete disgrace.

“They would rather homeless people lose out and go hungry because The Big Issue contains an interview with Rachel Riley, who they hate because she campaigned against racism.”

Neil Coyle: Does he care that he made a false claim when he said people are boycotting The Big Issue because it is exposing racism?

And current Labour MP Neil Coyle said: “Anyone suggesting we don’t buy The Big Issue and ignore homeless people because it is also exposing racism reveals quite how these people sank Labour and why they must never again be trusted to be anything other than a factional cult.”

As anybody who read This Site’s article about the row last Wednesday will know, their comments are shocking misrepresentations of the facts.

Nobody who commented on the Riley article suggested that homeless people should be harmed because of The Big Issue‘s descent into fake news.

You can read a few of the reasons Riley’s opinions were not supported by the facts in the Vox Political piece, so we won’t rehash old ground by re-examining what she calls campaigning against racism and why it is more likely to be political factionalism.

Concerns that a boycott would cause problems for homeless Big Issue sellers were raised by Shaun Lawson – one of the very people Riley has accused as part of her so-called campaign against racism.

That isn’t mentioned in the Mail article.

Nor are any of the comments in response. Let’s redress the balance here:

Giving money direct to the seller isn’t a perfect solution because The Big Issue relies on the seller buying the copies they pass on to the public – at half cover price.

But refusing to take the magazine while handing over the cash makes a strong statement – especially if the sellers hand all their unsold copies back to the publisher.

As you can see, nobody who called for the Riley issue of The Big Issue to be boycotted did it to harm the homeless sellers, or to attack a campaign against racism – because they do not accept that Riley does anything of the sort.

My question is: did the Mail‘s reporter make this clear to these politicians before they made their highly contentious and prejudiced statements?

If so, then This Writer is happy to forgive them after they publish a full retraction.

If not, then anybody who is not already shunning these people is encouraged to do so.

Source: Now hard-Left activists boycott The Big Issue because it ran interview with Rachel Riley | Daily Mail Online

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Riley writes for The Big Issue – so readers vow to stop buying it

The Big Issue: This Site is temporarily without image editing capability, otherwise there would be a big ‘No Entry’ sign across this logo.

The standout line in Rachel Riley’s Big Issue interview wasn’t about anti-Semitism, you may be surprised to learn.

It’s where she states: “If someone was ringing up your house phone and saying these things you would block that number. If someone came up to you in the street, you wouldn’t accept it. So there’s no reason why you should have to on social media either.”

What a coincidence that she should say such a thing at a time when I have been receiving abusive messages on my house phone! I sincerely hope it’s a coincidence, anyway, what with Riley being set to go into a civil trial against me over alleged abuses on the social media by herself and her Twitter friends and followers.

Needless to say, I haven’t blocked the number. I have saved the messages and reported the abuse to the police. We’ll see what comes of it.

The rest of the article is shockingly one-sided.

Riley is said to have become active against the Labour Pary’s handling of anti-Semitism accusations during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader, but no mention is made of the fact – revealed in the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report, published almost exactly a year ago – that Corbyn and his general secretary Jennie Formby hugely improved Labour’s response to such allegations after it had been allowed to grow lax by the party’s Governance and Legal Unit under previous GenSec Iain McNicol.

She states that new leader Keir Starmer has a “tough job” because Mr Corbyn “gave the worst result in 80 years for Labour”. This is debatable as the number of seats won did not reflect the number of votes cast. In fact, Corbyn won more than 10 million votes – more than previous leader Ed Miliband in 2015 (9.34 million) Gordon Brown in 2010 (8.6 million) and Tony Blair in 2005 (9.5 million).

Mr Corbyn is the Labour leader who scored the highest number of votes for Labour in the 21st century (so far) in 2017 (12.87 million).

It would be right to say that Labour won its lowest number of seats since 1935 – but that is more correctly attributed, not to Mr Corbyn, but to Starmer – whose insistence on a bad Brexit policy led to the loss of the so-called “Red Wall” seats in northern England to the Conservatives. It was Starmer who lost the 2019 election for Labour.

“In terms of antisemitism he’s definitely tackling it,” Riley said. Er, no.

He is suspending left-wing, socialist Labour Party members on hearsay accusations – for political reasons that have nothing to do with their attitude towards Jewish people. For proof of that, consider the fact that, according to campaigning Jewish organisations that Riley supports like the CST and the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the worst threats to Jewish people are on the right of the political spectrum – yet not a single complaint about anti-Semitism by right-wing members of the Labour Party (who all happen to be supporters of Keir Starmer) has been investigated. Not one.

Meanwhile, under Starmer, Jewish Labour Party members are now five times more likely to be accused of anti-Semitism than non-Jewish members. How does Riley reconcile that with her pro-Starmer attitude?

The interview goes on to discuss abuse that Riley says she has received after she “became more outspoken on social media”. It does not mention any of the evidence that her behaviour there has caused her followers and supporters to abuse others, that is the basis of the court action between her and This Writer.

And Riley is said to now be an ambassador for the grandly-titled Centre for Countering Digital Hate. Let’s have a look at that connection, shall we?

What a tangled web. Perhaps The Big Issue would have been wise to investigate these connections between the organisation for which Riley is now an ambassador and these people and organisations that are all connected very closely to Sir Keir Starmer.

Could it be possible that her statements about him may come from a position of… I don’t know… bias?

This Big Issue piece is a mockery of journalism. One would have expected at least some effort to provide factual accuracy – and where is the right of reply for people she has misrepresented?

The result is clear: People are boycotting The Big Issue.

It is a potentially problematic decision. The Big Issue is sold by people who are homeless and they receive a proportion of the money that is given to them.

Boycotting the magazine could harm homeless people – a point made very well by Shaun Lawson, whose articles about Riley’s unacceptable behaviour towards a teenage girl with mental health issues led to This Writer’s current court case:

He’s right to ask that we don’t make the homeless suffer. But here’s a solution, suggested by Jackie Walker – a person who knows very well how it feels to suffer a “false flag” attack on claims of anti-Semitism:

That’s the answer, for the time being.

Instead of buying The Big Issue, just give the money direct to the vendor and make it clear that it is for them, and not for the magazine. None of that money should go to The Big Issue.

And remember to do it when the next edition comes out because it will again feature Riley.

“Heavygusto”, below, makes a good point about it:

I would also urge everybody to contact Big Issue publisher John Bird and demand a balancing article. I would happily contribute and I’m sure others who have been victims of anti-Semitism-related falsehoods would also be keen to have their voices heard – for a change.

Riley’s lawsuit against me is still going on (and on, after nearly three years!) so if, after reading the above, you are interested in supporting my defence against her, please do one or more of the following:

Consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

Oh – one last point: Starmer’s approval rating is -40.

He won’t be winning any elections – especially with the likes of Rachel Riley cheerleading for him.

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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The influence of ‘big tobacco’ isn’t limited to think tanks: former minister Priti Patel was a lobbyist

Priti Patel: A former lobbyist for ‘big tobacco’.

Following the revelation that the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank is a lobbyist for British American Tobacco and for companies producing food that harms health – and also a major donor to the Conservative Party – does anybody remember this?

Priti Patel, the former International Development Secretary who was forced to resign after apparently conducting her own foreign policy in Israel, also lobbied for BAT, albeit in her former employment for a PR firm:

The employment minister, Priti Patel, was part of a team of spin doctors paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to help a tobacco giant counter negative publicity, including that surrounding its joint venture with one of the world’s most brutal military regimes.

Documents unearthed by the Observer shine new light on Patel’s work for Shandwick, a lobbying and PR firm that worked for British American Tobacco (BAT) in the early years of this century.

The documents, released by BAT following a legal action, show that Patel was one of seven employees used by Shandwick on the account. One of her jobs was to lobby MEPs against the introduction of the EU tobacco control directive, which was introduced shortly after the new millennium.

In 2001, Shandwick drew up plans to invoice BAT for 279 hours of its work a month, of which Patel’s contribution amounted to 100 hours. BAT was charged £165 an hour for Patel’s services. The entire team was on a monthly retainer of nearly £40,000 – a total of almost £500,000 a year.

Firms like BAT are major donors to the Conservative Party, while people like the IEA and Ms Patel were instrumental in pushing their agendas onto politicians – and onto the public through political discussion shows like the BBC’s Question Time.

These people betray the public trust because they present the desires of corporate bosses as the needs of the nation. And then you wonder why the environment is going to ruin…

Source: Minister worked as spin doctor for tobacco giant that paid workers £15 a month | Business | The Guardian

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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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Government’s ‘troubled families’ programme is failing; we knew it would

[Image: historyextra.com]

[Image: historyextra.com]

Remember back in April last year, when Vox Political said the Coalition government’s plan to stop children in ‘troubled’ families from playing truant, while finding work for the adults and stopping both from committing crime, was doomed to failure?

If you don’t, it’s not surprising (our readership back then was around a quarter of its current level) – and you haven’t missed much, because the scheme is back in the news as it is (again, unsurprisingly) failing.

The VP article pointed out that the government had been fiddling the figures in its bid to make it seem that 120,000 such families exist in the UK; in fact, “the number came from Labour research on disadvantaged families with multiple and complex needs, rather than families that caused problems,” according to ‘trouble families tsar’ Louise Casey at the time.

The article pointed out that local councils, offered a £4,000 bonus for each ‘troubled’ family they identified and helped (for want of a better word) were shoehorning families into the scheme – whether they qualified or not – just to make up the numbers.

It was doomed from the start.

So today we have figures obtained by Labour’s Hilary Benn, showing that around 106,500 families have been identified for the scheme (according to averages worked out from councils that responded to a Freedom of Information request). Of these, only around 35,500 were engaged by the scheme, which then failed in three-quarters of cases (around 26,600 families).

That leaves 8,878 families who actually came back to the straight-and-narrow – less than one-thirteenth of the target figure.

A success rate this low could have been achieved if the government had done nothing.

(That seems to be a running theme with the Coalition. What else does it remind us of? Ah, yes… The Work Programme. In this context it is extremely interesting that Mr Benn said the biggest obstruction to the scheme was the Work Programme’s failure “to deliver jobs to the poorest people in society”.)

According to The Guardian, “Data from 133 councils out of the 152 participating in the scheme found that almost one in seven families that had been “turned around” were either still on drugs, had children missing from school or involved in criminal acts.

“Another 60 per cent of households deemed to have been successfully helped by the scheme in March still had adults on unemployment benefits after leaving the programme.”

Bearing in mind the £4,000 ‘carrot’ that was waved in front of councils as encouragement for them to take part, you’ll enjoy the revelation that each local authority claimed to have found an average of 812 troubled families – 20 per cent more than central government had estimated.

Again, this is hardly surprising. Government-imposed council tax freezes have starved local authorities of money and £4,000, multiplied by 812, brings an average of £3,250,000 into each local authority that they would not, otherwise, have had.

So much for David Cameron’s plan to “heal the scars of the broken society”.

The Guardian also tells us that the ‘troubled families’ programme was launched by Cameron as a Big Society (remember that?) response to the riots of summer 2011.

In fact it doesn’t matter what the Coalition government does – or, indeed, what Labour plans to do if that party comes into office in 2015; schemes that are imposed on people from above will never succeed.

The problem is that the United Kingdom has become an increasingly unequal society, with money and privilege bled out of the majority of the population (who do most of the work for it) and into the hands of a very small number who have power and – it seems – no responsibility at all.

The vast majority of us are seen as disposable commodities by these exploiters – whose number includes a large proportion of MPs with interests in private business; they use us to make their huge profits and then throw us into unemployment.

Is it any wonder that such betrayal breeds families that turn away from the system and take to crime instead?

When David Cameron slithered into Downing Street he said he wanted to “re-balance” society. In fact, he over-balanced it even more in favour of privilege and wealth.

Now we need a proper re-balancing of society. The only way to solve the problem of ‘troubled families’ – a problem said to cost us £9 billion every year, by the way – is for people to be born into a society where everybody is valued and receives a fair (in the dictionary sense of the term, rather than the Conservative Party definition) reward for their contribution.

That will mean a fundamental shift in attitudes that should be taught to everybody from the cradle upwards.

You won’t get it under the Conservatives or any other right-wing government because they are exploiters by definition.

Will you get it under Labour?

Possibly. But a lot of right-wing Blairite dead wood will have to be cleared out first, and Hilary Benn is not the man his father was.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Alternatively, you can buy Vox Political books!
The second – Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook