Tag Archives: bill

The Tory Bill for workers’ rights – just another Boris Johnson lie?

The Tory two-fingered salute: this time it’s for working people across the UK who thought the lying Boris Johnson was ever going to offer them a fair deal.

Simple answer: it’s what they do.

Unions and industry groups were incensed earlier this week when they discovered that the Tory government has not included an Employment Bill to protect workers’ rights in plans for the new Parliamentary session.

Why were they so upset?

Because the Tories had promised it, that’s why!

Boris Johnson had responded to concerns that workers’ rights could be watered down after the UK left the EU, and worries about treatment of employees in the gig economy with a pledge to enshrine rights in law. That was in 2019.

Since then, nothing.

According to the BBC,

When first announced, the bill had promised:

  • the creation of a single enforcement body, offering greater protections for workers
  • making sure that tips left for workers go to them in full
  • all workers would have the right to ask for a more predictable contract
  • redundancy protections would be extended to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination
  • parents allowed to take extended leave for neonatal care
  • entitlement to one week’s leave for unpaid carers
  • subject to consultation, the bill also proposed making flexible working the default unless employers have good reason not to.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the lack of the Employment Bill in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech meant “vital rights that ministers had promised – like default flexible working, fair tips and protection from pregnancy discrimination – risk being ditched for good”.

She claimed ministers had “sent a signal that they are happy for rogue employers to ride roughshod over workers’ rights,” adding it would see “bad bosses celebrating”.

She’s not wrong!

But then, working people and their representatives were wrong ever to believe that Boris Johnson and his gang of asset-strippers and exploiters would ever legislate to ensure proper treatment for them.

In short, it seems clear that the promise of an Employment Bill was another Boris Johnson lie. We should have treated it as such from the start.

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Banning UK citizens from protesting against Israel’s government is anti-democratic. Here’s why

Anti-Semitism? The Tory government’s plan to ban public bodies from taking part in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against a murderous foreign apartheid regime will be painted as a crusade against anti-Semitism. But it is one that will lack accurate evidence.

One of the (many) planned laws in Boris Johnson’s new legislative programme is one said to “prevent public bodies from adopting their own approach to international relations” by adopting ethical positions against foreign human rights abusers with boycotts of their exports.

It is widely understood that Johnson’s aim is to protect the government of Israel from the growing BDS movement, which seeks to end that country’s apartheid regime in Palestine.

This is – of course – hugely undemocratic. Local authorities and the devolved governments are elected by the UK’s voters and should be allowed to procure goods and services as they see fit, including according to a higher standard of ethics than that of the national UK government itself.

In essence, it seems the legislation is intended to smear those who refuse to tolerate the Israeli persecution of Palestine as anti-Semites. For some of us, it’s a familiar tactic.

Many people, including This Writer, have already been smeared as anti-Semites for opposing the harmful – indeed, homicidal – activities of a national government that presents itself as representing an entire ethnic group (it doesn’t; many Jews around the world are repulsed by the way Palestine is being treated).

Perversely, it is anti-racism campaigners who are being branded as anti-Semites – a brand that the UK’s own government intends to burn into local authorities, devolved governments and other public bodies if they insist on acting against the persecution of Palestine.

You can find out more about what has already happened – and help fight what is happening now – by visiting the website of a relatively new organisation whose title states exactly what it is about: the Campaign Against Bogus Antisemitism.

The organisation’s website states: “It is deeply hurtful to anti-racist campaigners to be branded as antisemitic. People are broken by the embarrassment and shame of attacks they suffer in the media, there for friends, family and other campaigning bodies to see – as if it were the truth… CABA aims to help set the record straight.

“We are a volunteer-led group dedicated to exposing and countering bogus antisemitism- through education and championing those unjustly accused.

“We are building a network of activists across UK, Palestine and further afield, working in a concerted manner, campaigning to allow us to decry apartheid in Israel without being branded ‘anti-Semites’.”

There’s a lot of information on the CABA site – This Writer hasn’t been able to read all of it, and I’m sure that much of it will be disputed by those with an interest in doing so.

But the intention seems an honest one – which is more than the Tory government can offer with its pro-racist, pro-apartheid planned law.

Give it a look and judge for yourself. You may learn a lot.

Source: About Us- and Joining – Campaign Against BOGUS Antisemitism

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It’s big, but neither ambitious nor impressive: Boris Johnson’s plan for new laws

On the attack: Boris Johnson has unveiled no fewer than 38 Bills and draft Bills that will clamp down hard on the people of the UK while denying any help to deal with the crises facing us.

Boris Johnson his revealed a plan for 38 new laws in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament, delivered in her absence by Prince Charles.

The Prince may have been mortified that it fell to him to report such a mess of half-baked ideas, attempts to dodge democracy, and above all failure to address the burning issues facing the people of the United Kingdom due to the incompetence of Johnson’s nearly three years as prime minister (and almost 12 years of Conservative failure in total).

There are no plans to address the cost-of-living crisis that is already crippling the ability of the poorest in society – millions of whom are already having to go without food on a regular basis – and threatening to harm millions more in the future as another increase in energy prices and wider-spread inflation hits families.

The government is putting forward an Energy Security Bill to “accelerate our transition to more secure, more affordable and cleaner homegrown energy supplies”. But this won’t help anybody for many years – and it includes an expansion of dirty nuclear energy that will make the UK a target for disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, and will fill the country with nuclear waste.

Johnson has claimed that his aim is to build a high-skills, high-pay economy, and that this will protect the population in the future. But he has been criticised for failing to draft an employment bill to protect workers’ rights, thereby leaving them open to exploitation.

On the other hand, there are plans to clamp down on political protest: the Public Order Bill would create a criminal offence, with a maximum sentence of 12 months, of “interfering with key national infrastructure” such as airports, railways and printing presses. This would also make it illegal to obstruct major transport works such as HS2.

Home Secretary Priti Patel says the changes are needed to deal with a “self-indulgent minority who seem to revel in causing mayhem and misery”. Doesn’t that more accurately describe the Conservative government of which she is a member?

And as part of what we’re told are seven Bills to capitalise on opportunities (if you can call them that) created by Brexit, a new Bill of Rights will show how Johnson intends to scrap your human rights and replace them with a series of privileges to be granted you by your Tory overlords, that may be changed whenever they feel like it. It has been suggested that this will not replace primary legislation, though.

A possibly-euphemistic Brexit Freedoms Bill will give the Tories power to change EU laws that were copied into the UK’s statute book after the country left the European Union – which should also ring alarm bells among members of the population who know that this signifies a removal, not expansion, of our freedoms.

Another Bill will set out the framework in which Nadine Dorries will be able to push through her undemocratic plan to privatise Channel 4 – after a government consultation found that 96 per cent of the population don’t want it to happen.

The list goes on and on – but most of the items on it are described in only vague terms. Many of them are plans to relegate certain forms of lawmaking to what’s known as “secondary legislation” – statutory instruments that are signed off by ministers rather than enjoying a democratic vote in Parliament. These may be seen as assaults on democracy and steps toward dictatorship.

You can spot these for yourself in the lists provided by news organisations, for example here, here and here.

Worst of all is the fact that this programme of attacks against you will continue, even if Boris Johnson is removed from power.

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If your energy bill direct debit has doubled or tripled, here’s Martin Lewis’s advice

Martin Lewis: the ‘Money Saving Expert’ has advice that could save you hundreds of pounds if your energy supplier is overcharging you.

It seems some energy firms are playing fast and loose with customers on direct debit, with price hikes of up to 250 per cent.

So take a hard look at what your energy firm is charging you.

It seems some of them are trying to boost their own bank balances in advance of another expected price hike in October – in effect, relieving their own cash flow problems by inflicting them on you.

But it could lead to a fine of up to one-tenth of a company’s turnover if it is caught.

‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis has given advice on this, warning that there are some circumstances in which higher bill increases may be allowed.

But if you are in credit and “on the price cap”, and seeing a bill increase of more than 54 per cent, then you should call up the companies – politely – and dispute the new bill by asking them to justify the hike.

This would not be a “negotiation” as there is a legal requirement for your direct debit to be fair.

If the firm refuses to reduce the bill, then you should announce that you will take the matter to the Ombudsman. This will cost the energy company money.

Source: Martin Lewis’ urgent advice to anyone who uses direct debit to pay for their energy bills

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Lords cave in on undemocratic Tory laws ahead of closure of Parliament

Have you got your ID? If not, you won’t be able to vote in Parliamentary elections across the UK or local elections in England after the Tory government succeeded in restricting the number of people allowed to exercise their democratic right, affecting millions of people. Are you among those targeted by this?

A mass of undemocratic and despotic new laws are to come into being after cowardly Lords gave up their opposition to corrupt Tory government plans.

The Nationality and Borders Bill is to receive Royal Assent after peers gave up their principles.

It means Priti Patel’s plan to send asylum-seekers to live in Rwanda, rather than the UK, will be put into practice just as soon as she can get all the mechanisms in place, and never mind that it costs more than sending these people to live at the Ritz.

It will also become a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally. This is hugely contentious because Patel has closed down all legal routes for asylum-seekers to enter the UK. The daughter of refugees herself, she has literally pulled up the ladder behind her, as the saying goes.

Fortunately, it seems other organisations have more backbone than the Lords. According to the BBC,

More than 200 organisations, including Oxfam and Save the Children, said they would challenge its outcomes, calling it “anti-refugee”.

The Elections Bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament, meaning the Tory government will be able to restrict whether you are allowed to vote or not, based on whether you have a particular form of photographic identification. Millions of people don’t.

Meanwhile, the 15-year limit on rich UK citizens living abroad being allowed to vote will be scrapped.

The undemocratic upshot of these two measures will be that it will be much easier for people living overseas to vote – and without any barriers like photo ID, while it will be much harder for domestic citizens to do the same.

The Tory government is also seizing control of the Electoral Commission, meaning oversight of the way electoral law is administered will no longer be independent and your corrupt government will be able to twist the way elections are run in order to suit itself.

Finally, a bid to deprive even more people of access to justice has been passed: the Judicial Review and Courts Bill will stop the funding of bereaved families’ legal representation at inquests involving public bodies. If This Writer understands correctly, it means that if somebody dies because of a failure by such an organisation, their families will be unable to seek justice from those responsible unless they are independently wealthy (which seems unlikely).

Parliament is being prorogued today (Thursday, April 28), having been back in session for only a matter of days after the Easter break. It will not meet again until May 10, when a new session will begin with a Queen’s Speech laying out Boris Johnson’s plans for the following year or so.

Some legislation has been carried over to the new Parliamentary session, including the long-awaited and controversial Online Safety Bill, which will seek to criminalise certain abusive and antisocial behaviours on the Internet and regulate online companies in line with those measures.

The big surprise for many people must be the silence from Opposition leader Keir Starmer. He should be trumpeting that a Labour government will reverse the corrupt and undemocratic measures in these new laws but instead it seems he supports them.

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The Lords were right to defeat Tory government’s ‘voter ID’ plan to nobble democracy

Voting: did either of these constituents bring photo ID to the polling station?

A Tory plan to restrict voting in general elections to people who have very specific forms of identification has been overturned in the House of Lords – after a Tory suggested an alternative.

Peers decided to widen the range of documents a person could present to get a ballot paper, saying the limited range suggested by the Tory government was too restrictive,

Conservative peer – and former minister – Lord Willetts said documents including library cards and workplace or student ID cards should be added to the list of approved forms of ID because government plans for people without approved ID to get a free photo card from their council would be expensive.

He expressed concern that “hundreds of voters per constituency” could be turned away from polling stations at the next election.

“Imagine if the outcome of the next election is a modest majority… where throughout the day the media story has been voters being turned away from polling stations,” he said.

“That seems to me a very significant political and constitutional risk that does need to be taken into account if this measure is introduced.”

The point is a good one, although it fails to appreciate that the Tories want to introduce voter ID because they are losing voters and fear that, soon, they will only be able to win elections by ensuring that supporters of other parties – who may not have, or be able to afford, the prescribed forms of identification – can’t vote.

Trials in 2018 – in just five constituencies – led to 3,981 potential voters being turned away because they didn’t have the right ID (which isn’t the same as saying they were trying to commit fraud, of course).

Using that as an average figure, if the proposed restrictions had been applied across the UK, more than half a million people would have been denied their constitutional right. And that’s just in local elections that have a lower turnout than general elections.

If applied to general elections, it is thought that between one million and 3,5 million voters would be disenfranchised,

Let’s remember that the total number of voter fraud allegations in the 2017 general election was 28 – of which This Writer seems to recall only one was proved,

The list of those who would be turned away from polling stations includes young people, those with disabilities, ethnic minority communities, homeless people and transgender and gender non-conforming people, none of whom are normally expected to vote Conservative.

More than 40 charities, campaign groups and academics have called on the government to scrap its voter ID plan, including the Electoral Reform Society, Age UK, the RNIB, the Salvation Army, the British Youth Council, Stonewall, Operation Black Vote, Liberty, the National Union of Students and St Mungo’s.

The Tory government has ignored their concerns.

The cost to the public purse of preventing perfectly law-abiding voters from kicking the Tories out of office is projected to be £180 million per decade – £18 million a year,

Bear in mind that this plan will create a two-tier election system in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with some elections banning those without ID, and others remaining open and free.

Two sets of rules about how people take part would apply. Some people would be certain to become confused and fail to take ID – if they had it – meaning they would be excluded from voting in the Westminster election.

Other measures in the Tories’ corrupt Elections Bill – I call it the Voter Restriction Bill – include banning party campaigners from handling postal votes, and stopping people from collecting postal votes from people who are unable to get to post boxes and handing them in.

But the 15-year limit on overseas electors in UK general elections would be removed – to allow Tory donors to continue participating in elections.

The good news is that, as with their decision to upset plans in Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill, peers have made their changes close to the end of the current Parliamentary session.

This means Boris Johnson and his cronies must now decide whether to accept a compromise or risk losing their Bill altogether if “Parliamentary ping-pong” between the Commons and the Lords continues and their differences are unresolved when the session ends.

Let’s hope that happens and this Tory assault on democracy can be killed.

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Lords upset Tory plan to strip people of UK citizenship without warning

Priti Patel: does she look like a reasonable person to you? No? Then she’s not likely to persuade the Lords to accept her racist plan to change immigration law.

Here’s a sticky mess for the Tories – their hugely controversial plan to strip people of their UK citizenship, without warning, has been overturned in the House of Lords.

According to the BBC,

The Nationality and Borders Bill would allow the UK authorities to strip someone of their British citizenship without warning.

But crossbench peer Baroness D’Souza, who argued this would be “unjust”, submitted an amendment which was passed by a majority of 44 votes.

The bill will now go back to the House of Commons.

Until the two Houses can agree on the final wording of the bill, it cannot pass into law.

This is known as “Parliamentary ping-pong” – a frivolous phrase for a process that can cause a huge amount of harm to a huge number of people.

In practise, the government would normally steamroll over the Lords’ objections – but it seems Priti Patel doesn’t have time for that.

The current Parliamentary session is expected to end within the next few weeks, and all its business will end with it – whether it has been concluded or not.

So Patel will need to work out whether she’ll need to make compromises before the Lords give up.

She is adamant that the change is needed as a matter of national security, but we can all see that this is nonsense – can’t we?

Minority groups say the Bill is an attempt to turn them into second-class citizens, to be dismissed from the UK at the whim of an uncaring (racist?) Tory government.

So the Lords are unlikely to cave in if they have a good chance to kill this legislation, and Patel is not known for giving ground in a reasonable way.

This will be worth watching.

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Government votes down calls to change asylum and immigration reforms

Border Force: the government wants refugees picked up by these officials to be sent to a phenomenally expensive purpose-built site on Ascension Island. Lunacy.

The Conservative government has voted to support extremely expensive changes to the immigration and asylum system, in spite of objections from its own party.

Tory Andrew Mitchell said plans for an offshore processing system for asylum seekers – on Ascension Island, after bids to put one in Ghana, Rwanda, Albania and Denmark were all refused – were ridiculous.

He questioned how much such a policy would cost: “Judged by the costs of Australian offshoring the British taxpayer would face unprecedented costs per asylum seeker. It would be much cheaper to put each one in the The Ritz and send all the under-18s to Eton.”

David Davis previously described such a move as creating “a British Guantanamo Bay”.

Lords had removed the measure from the Nationality and Borders Bill last month, but MPs voted by 302 votes to 232, majority 70, to disagree with the Lords and put it back in.

A Lords amendment which sought to guarantee the UK takes in at least 10,000 refugees a year, which was rejected by 313 votes to 227 – a majority of 86 votes.

An attempt by peers to cut the time asylum seekers have to wait before they can work from 12 to six months was rejected by MPs by 291 votes to 232 – a majority of 59 votes – but the government did offer to meet concerned Tory MPs to discuss the issue further.

The legislation will now return to the Lords for peers to examine again in what is known as ‘parliamentary ping-pong’.

Source: Government sees off calls from some Tories to change asylum and immigrations reforms

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MPs use taxpayer-funded expenses to pay bills worth thousands. You get a £200 loan

Not strictly a backhander: but why are MPs getting their extra heating bills paid on expenses – along with an increase in their wages?

The following should be self-explanatory:

These are just three examples. Want to know how many MPs are sponging thousands of pounds from you – that’s right, you personally – this way?

340:

Connected to this, here’s a good question:

In fact, the pay rise is supposed to cover extra work that MPs have to do now – and RD Hale’s argument still works.

By the same logic, if MPs deserve £2,212 to cover the value of the extra work they’re having to do, then minimum wage earners deserve £66,770. And their heating costs paid by the government.

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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New Tory law to sanction Russians actually lets them off the hook

Boris Johnson and Alexander Temerko: You can imagine the conversation – “Don’t worry Alex, the fix is in so you can keep donating hundreds of thousands of quid to us via Aquind Ltd.

A law to harden and quicken UK sanctions against allies of Vladimir Putin that was fast-tracked through the House of Commons contains a clause to get them all off the hook.

The Economic Crime Bill intends to end anonymity for foreign billionaires who own land and other assets in the UK, making it harder for them to launder money into the country. Apparently they’ll be named on a register and that will stop them.

But Section 18 of the Economic Crime Bill, “Exemptions”, states:

“The Secretary of State may, by giving written notice to a person, exempt the person under this section if satisfied that to do so is necessary – (a) in the interests of national security; (b) in the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom; (c) for the purposes of preventing or detecting serious crime.”

The Secretary of State, at the moment, is Priti Patel.

You see the problem?

The Bill makes it entirely possible for Russian oligarchs with close connections to members of the government like, perhaps, Boris Johnson to persuade them that transparency would force them to remove their assets from the UK and therefore harm the economy, and that it is in the UK’s economic interest for their identities to remain confidential.

This encourages This Writer to reason that the government has never intended to sanction Russians with close connections to it; we know no sanctions have been imposed on Russians who have donated money to the Conservative Party or any of its MPs, and now we see that the new clampdown Bill is designed to exempt them from any penalties.

This is more evidence that although the Johnson government says it supports Ukraine, it is in fact on the side of the Russians who pay their drinks bills.

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 Livingstone Presumption is now available
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