Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

Johnson sets up secret Whitehall task force to excuse him from Covid-19 mistakes

Johnson’s Covid-19 strategy: this Times cartoon seems to have it right; don’t expect his private inquiry to come to the same conclusions.

Isn’t it strange that Boris Johnson can tell us it isn’t time to have a public inquiry into his Covid-19 strategies – but then orders one to be carried out in private?

The claim is that the Department of Health team will examine lessons to be learned and recommend action.

But I think somebody on Twitter summed up the reality of the situation much better:

“Johnson isn’t looking for the facts. He’s looking for something he can tell Parliament.” That’ll be something to excuse him from any wrongdoing.

Source: Boris Johnson sets up secret Whitehall task force to examine Government’s virus mistakes – Mirror Online

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Tory back to work plan may endanger millions of people with disabilities

Bearing in mind that two-thirds of all the people who died of Covid-19 had disabilities, I reckon they know what they’re talking about when they say Boris Johnson’s latest plan puts them in danger.

But then, killing people with disabilities was the plan, wasn’t it?

So shielding – where people with serious illnesses or disabilities are given extra help to stay isolated from the rest of the population – is going to end on August 1, meaning many more of these people may be exposed to the virus.

And with their illnesses, exposure may be fatal.

Scope’s James Taylor explains it in the BBC news piece:

“Millions of disabled people at greater risk of coronavirus feel their fears are not being taken into account.

“Disabled people must be able to have flexibility about returning to their workplace.”

He criticised the government’s advice that decisions about going back to workplaces should be made my employers, saying it will “create inconsistency”.

He added that it also “does little to reassure those disabled people who fear being forced to choose between protecting their health and paying the bills”.

A Scope survey of 1,115 people with a disability or other health condition found half of those that responded feel anxious about shielding being paused.

Of those surveyed, 67 per cent think the government’s plans for easing lockdown did not take their needs into consideration, while 59 per cent said they are concerned about feeling forgotten by the government.

Moreover, 41 per cent think life will be worse for disabled people after the pandemic.

That’s if they survive the pandemic, of course!

It seems – despite a few mealy-mouthed words of comfort, the Tory government is still trying to eliminate the so-called “useless eaters”.

Source: Back to work advice ‘alarm bells’ for disabled people – BBC News

Boris Johnson’s plan for Covid-19 ignores one significant detail: reality

Boris Johnson has announced a plan to return the UK to “significant normality” by Christmas but there’s just one problem.

If Covid-19 behaves like other betacoronaviruses – and there’s no reason it should not – then it will certainly break out again, all over the UK, in the autumn (around November).

As Johnson is doing everything he can to get everybody back to work again before then – he has just announced that his “work from home if you can” edict will expire on August 1, allowing employers to force workers to travel back to their normal place of work – he’ll expose us all to that threat.

He seems to be basing his decision on a decrease in Covid-related deaths that is likely to have less to do with his efforts to fight the disease than with the changing of the seasons.

If Covid-19 follows its fellow betacoronaviruses, then its incidence will significantly reduce over the summer.

Resistance will last around six months.

So the best advice for Johnson – until we get a vaccine that works, at least – is to ensure that the starting point for the November increase is as low as possible.

He’s not doing that.

Instead, by pushing us back into contact with each other, he is increasing the number of people contracting the virus and therefore increasing the number that is likely to die.

This Writer’s understanding is that Johnson’s most recent easing of lockdown restrictions have pushed the ‘R’ rate up to 1.3 or thereabouts – much too high to be easing further.

But on he barges in typical bull-in-a-china-shop style.

Still, his own immunity is likely to run out before November. Perhaps if he gets another dose he might wise up…

Or we might be able to trade him in for a more intelligent politician.

Source: Coronavirus: Boris Johnson sets out plan for ‘significant normality’ by Christmas – BBC News

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Floundering Johnson outflanked over publication of ‘Russia Report’

Facepalm: Boris Johnson could be in serious trouble with members of his own party, depending on the contents of the so-called ‘Russia Report’.

Any hope Boris Johnson may have had that he could further delay or hide the revelations in the so-called ‘Russia Report’ on interference by that country in UK politics must now be gone.

And that’s a good thing for British democracy!

A panicking Johnson furiously threw Julian Lewis out of the Parliamentary Conservative Party after he joined Labour and SNP members of the new Intelligence and Security committee to get himself elected as its chair instead of Johnson’s choice, the incompetent Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling.

And it seems Johnson is considering attempting to have Lewis removed from the committee altogether.

But Lewis has moved too fast for it to make a difference. The committee met today (July 16) and ordered that the Russia Report will be published within the next week – before Parliament rises for the summer.

It has been suggested that the report contains details that are embarrassing for the Tories – or at least for Boris Johnson. But the government has claimed that political considerations were not involved.

However (1): while it is true that Downing Street cleared the report for publication last November, Downing Street also ordered a general election, meaning that the previous Intelligence and Security committee, that would have overseen its publication, was disbanded and nothing could be done until the new committee was set up.

However (2): the creation of the new committee was delayed by eight months while Parliament waited for Boris Johnson to nominate MPs to be its members.

However (3): if there are no political considerations, why remove the Conservative whip from Lewis after his so-called ‘coup’? This committee does not operate on political lines – it was established by an Act of Parliament and must act impartially – so it is inappropriate for Johnson to claim that Lewis acted for political gain, and far more likely that, in doing so, it was in the interests of his own well-being.

However (4): it has been suggested that Johnson may now put a motion before Parliament to remove Lewis from the committee he now chairs, in order to replace him as chair with another Tory (not Grayling, who seems to be backing out) of Johnson’s choice. This really would be seen as political interference as it would indicate beyond doubt that Johnson wants to control, for his own purposes, a committee that is intended to be impartial.

He would be better-off leaving well alone.

But it seems a lot of damage has already been done.

Former Tory Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has verbally attacked Johnson, just for removing the Tory whip from Lewis.

He said: “The Act of Parliament is quite clear the Prime Minister has no role in the choice of the chairman of the committee

“Once the committee has been appointed it is for the committee itself to decide its chairman.

“The idea of using the Whips to try and force Conservative members to vote for a particular candidate goes totally against the way the committee under statute has operated since it began.

“It’s never been a partisan committee, I think the Prime Minister has handled this – or his advisers whoever is dealing with it – in an extremely incompetent way.”

And he continued, damningly: “What I most object to, was the attempt of Prime Minister and the government or whoever, Dominic Cummings, whoever is involved in these things I don’t know, to try to control the way the intelligence committee operates by choosing for its chairman and putting pressure on MPs to make him chairman.

“If they had succeeded, that destroys the whole purpose of the Intelligence and Security Committee. It is a unique committee. They are the only people who have access to the highest levels of intelligence.

“They need the confidence of the intelligence agencies and of Parliament. If they are thought to be creatures of government they have no authority to do the job that the law requires them to do.”

So with the committee chaired by Lewis, it actually has more authority than under anyone chosen by Boris Johnson. So much for his claim that it’s Lewis who was politically-motivated!

Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s intervention suggests a deeper problem for Johnson, though:

The Conservative Party still has a strong contingent of members who believe very firmly that the UK should be the most powerful country in the world and they should be running it because that makes them the most powerful people in the world.

The implication that the Russia Report has been suppressed because it indicates some form of collusion – of subservience – by representatives of their party to Russia is anathema to them.

They want to know the facts – now – so they can work out what to do about Johnson.

His troubles may be only just beginning.

Source: Russia ‘interference’ report to be published – BBC News

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Russia report: new intelligence committee chair loses Tory whip but gains respect

Coup: Julian Lewis.

This is very funny indeed – but we may all have cause to be grateful for what has happened.

You will recall that concerns were raised when Boris Johnson nominated Chris “Failing” Grayling – widely held to be one of the stupidest individuals ever to be voted into office – as the chair of Parliament’s important Intelligence and Security Committee.

This is the group that would be responsible for publication of the so-called “Russia Report” on interference by that country in UK politics. The concern was that Grayling would mess up publication of that report. He has a reputation for such things.

The nine-strong committee comprises five Conservatives, three from the Labour Party and one from the SNP.

With a clear Tory majority, it was expected that Grayling would be voted into the chair – but it seems there was a coup.

The Labour and SNP representatives nominated Julian Lewis – a different Tory – for the chair, and his own vote sealed his election. The other Tories voted for Grayling, including Grayling himself.

So Johnson has kicked Lewis out of the Parliamentary Conservative Party – in official language, he has withdrawn the Tory whip.

Apparently…

A senior government source told the BBC that Mr Lewis “has been told by the chief whip that it is because he worked with Labour and other opposition MPs for his own advantage”.

By voting for himself? But wouldn’t Grayling have been working for his own advantage because he voted for himself?

And – considering the concerns about Grayling – isn’t it possible that he was in fact acting in the national interest, rather than “for hiss own advantage”?

You have to be wary of the language these government types use, you know.

It’s clear that Lewis did the right thing. He’ll gain respect for it, in the long run. And he can’t be voted out; the choice has been made.

Perhaps Johnson is just spooked because now the “Russia Report” is likely to be published before Parliament goes into recess on July 22. He has gone to great lengths to keep it away from the public since it was written last October – nine months ago.

Labour committee member Kevan Jones seems to think so:

“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. It’s been through both the committee, it’s been agreed through the redaction process, and it’s been agreed by government,” he says.

So it seems Johnson has been foiled.

And Julian Lewis losing the Tory whip is a small price to pay to find out what’s in that report.

Source: Russia report: New intelligence committee chair loses Tory whip – BBC News

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Johnson’s ‘herd immunity’ is a nonsense: Covid-19 antibodies fade within months

Boris Johnson’s entire strategy for coping with Covid-19 has been proved to be useless  – according to the science.

Oh yes, yes – Johnson appeared to give up on ‘herd immunity’ when he put the UK into lockdown in March.

But for lockdown to succeed, we all had to stay away from possible infection until the virus had no way of reproducing and passing from person to person.

Johnson’s strategy ensured that there were always people circulating who could be exposed to it. Think about the NHS staff with their inadequate PPE (personal protection equipment), or care staff who carried the disease between homes after the Tories ordered infected residents to be sent there.

And Johnson has kept infection rates up by easing the lockdown for sectors of the community – schools, for example. Pub-goers. Commuters…

All of it was for nothing if he thought he was immunising the nation incrementally because it turns out that Covid-19 antibodies don’t last.

Like the common cold, it seems it will be possible for the virus to infect us all on a regular basis.

That’s the finding of research by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust – and also by the Spanish Ministry of Health.

So the easing of lockdown before Covid-19 was eradicated has done nothing but prolong the crisis in the UK; Johnson would have been better-advised to make the lockdown much harder (and he probably was). It would have been for a much shorter period.

But it seems unlikely this bull-in-a-China-shop prime minister will acknowledge his own stupidity and change course.

All in all, it suggests that the conspiracy theorists are right and he’s simply using the pandemic as a way of culling the population.

Given the evidence, why else would anyone follow a plan as ridiculous as Johnson’s?

Source: Immunity to Covid-19 could be lost in months, UK study suggests | World news | The Guardian

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Priti Patel bullying claims aren’t as dead as we’ve been led to believe

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: allies against the civil service?

Isn’t this interesting?

Way back at the end of April, we were all being told that Priti Patel would be cleared of all allegations that she bullied civil servants in three separate government departments

Yes, the claim prompted condemnation of the Cabinet Office inquiry process, which is conducted in secret and offers no recourse for complainants.

And Boris Johnson has already been criticised for compromising the process by insisting, before the inquiry had concluded, that he would continue to support Patel.

When This Site published a story about it, I wrote that the courts had yet to hear the case of Sir Philip Rutnam, the former permanent secretary to the Home Office, who had brought a case of constructive dismissal against Ms Patel.

I pointed out that the whole Cabinet Office inquiry process would be brought into question if the courts find against Ms Patel.

Now it seems the result of the inquiry has been delayed by the senior civil servant carrying it out, Helen MacNamara, after she heard evidence supporting Sir Philip’s claims.

Here’s The Independent (because The Times is behind a paywall):

The Times has reported a stand-off between Ms MacNamara, the Cabinet Office’s head of propriety and ethics, and her political masters.

The article suggested the inquiry report will never be published, unless the prime minister is able to say the investigation found no conclusive evidence of bullying, an outcome that Ms MacNamara is resisting.

It would be corrupt if the government suppressed the inquiry’s report to save the blushes of a bullying cabinet member.

If Patel has behaved inappropriately towards civil servants in the Home Office, Department of Work and Pensions and Department of International Trade, then she should be removed from any position of responsibility.

Basically, she should be sacked in disgrace.

If Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is shown to have tried to exert undue influence to prevent the facts from reaching the public, then he should resign.

No wonder the Labour Party – and others including the FDA union that represents public service managers – is demanding the report’s release.

And the court case still hasn’t taken place. What will Johnson do about that?

Source: Labour demands release of Priti Patel bullying report, amid claims of ‘political interference’ | The Independent

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I was in Bosnia in the 1990s. Boris Johnson’s comment about Muslims there is an outrage

Boris Johnson: he doesn’t care about Muslims who died 25 years ago. He probably thinks they were just another bunch of heathens. But he’ll watch you die and then talk about you the same way he referred to them.

I don’t care if he wrote it 23 years ago – Boris Johnson should have been apologising to Bosnian Muslims ever since.

Writing about the Srebrenica massacre, which happened 25 years ago today (July 11), Johnson stated in 1997: “They weren’t exactly angels, these Muslims.”

It’s yet another example of England’s Shame being unable to hold his tongue, therefore proving his imbecility to the world.

Let’s go over the details for those who may not be aware of them: a quarter of a century ago, Serbs led by Ratko Mladic murdered 8,000 Muslims who had sought refuge from them in Srebrenica, which the UN was trying to protect with Dutch forces.

Even Johnson has admitted it was the worst massacre on European soil since World War II.

I was in Bosnia in the 1990s and I think I understand why he said Bosnian Muslims weren’t angels.

You see, when violence broke out in the former Yugoslavia, Muslim Bosnia had no army to call its own and therefore no weapons with which to fend off other former Yugoslav countries’ armies of extermination.

So when the tanks rolled into their towns, they dispersed into the hills…

And when night fell, they came back down and used every means at their disposal to obtain weapons. That required them to do extreme violence to their Serb occupiers – some with their bare hands, some with kitchen knives.

It was that or death.

And it was a war of attrition. As the Bosnian Muslims gained weapons, they used them to gain more – and heavier – arms until they were eventually able to force out the occupiers.

That is how the war was explained to me. It was not without risks for those Bosnian Muslims, but I notice that Johnson said nothing about the reprisals suffered by any who were caught.

I could tell you about incidents that would turn your hair white, but I won’t. Some details of genocide are best left to be told by the peoples who suffered it.

They were people facing extermination.

I cannot help questioning Johnson’s choice to lay that label on them. Was he attempting a little discreet manipulation?

You see, in saying these people weren’t “angels”, he was stigmatising all people who stand up against murderous oppression.

Perhaps he was thinking ahead to a future when a Conservative government headed by someone like himself would be gleefully exterminating people with long-term illnesses, disabilities and care needs, and demonising anybody who tried to speak up for them with a rhetoric about “scroungers” and “skivers”.

Can’t you just imagine him commenting on the latest deaths? “Appalling. But they weren’t exactly angels, these cripples.”

Source: Boris Johnson urged to apologise for Srebrenica comments – BBC News

Blame shifting Tories accuse BBC over end of free licences for over-75s

This is stomach-turning hypocrisy from the party that hoodwinked the UK into giving it an 80-seat Parliamentary majority.

The Independent explains what’s going on:

The BBC is to end free TV licences for most over-75s from 1 August, after the plan was delayed by two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The broadcaster was due to introduce means-testing at the start of June.

The policy changes mean more than 3 million households will need to pay the £157.50 fee from August, according to the BBC.

That’s bad enough, and you might think it’s poor of the BBC to inflict the licence fee on senior citizens who’ve had TV for free for many years.

This hypocritical Tory certainly seems to think so:

Julian Knight, the Tory MP who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, also expressed his concerns about the decision.

“At what is already a very difficult time, this will be a body blow to millions of British pensioners,” he said.

“I had hoped that the previous delay announced would lead to the government and BBC coming together in order to thrash out a fresh deal. However, that has clearly not happened.”

He seems to have conveniently forgotten that the subsidy was ended by a Tory government, back when George Osborne was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

As This Site has previously stated, the subsidy that paid TV licence fees for people aged 75 and more was brought in by the New Labour government in 1999, when Gordon Brown promised to pay the BBC to provide the service.

Tory Chancellor George Osborne reversed that agreement in 2015 when he told the BBC the government would stop paying the subsidy by June 2020.

He did not say the BBC would be ordered to pay the subsidy instead of the Treasury; it was nothing to do with the BBC.

And before anybody tries to say that Julian Knight is misinformed and Boris Johnson wouldn’t accuse the BBC in the same way, let’s just remind ourselves of Johnson’s own words on the subject, from August 2019:

The BBC should “cough up” and pay for TV licences for all over-75s, the prime minister has said.

It comes after the BBC announced in June that it would restrict the benefit to those in low-income households.

Speaking to reporters at the G7 summit, Boris Johnson said the BBC’s funding settlement had been conditional on it continuing to fund the free licences – something the corporation disputes.

Mr Johnson told reporters at the summit in Biarritz, southern France: “The BBC received a settlement that was conditional upon their paying for TV licences for the over-75s.

“They should cough up.”

As This Writer put it at the time, it’s a typical Tory tactic.

They starved councils of funding, forcing them to cut services to the public. Who got the blame? The local authority.

They privatised huge swathes of the National Health Service, meaning that public funds were diverted into the profits of private firms and services suffered while the Tories were claiming to be increasing funding massively. Who got the blame? The NHS.

Now this.

Worse still, the Tories are using this as an opportunity to introduce means-testing for over-75s. They will demand to know how much money each household receives, in order to determine whether it should have a subsidised licence.

But the idea of means-testing by asking whether households are in receipt of pension credit is fatally flawed.

Many households don’t even know they qualify for the benefit because the Conservative government hasn’t bothered to tell them.

So let’s be honest.

Boris Johnson is lying about the fact that his Conservative government is forcing pensioners aged over 75 to pay the TV licence free – including those who should be exempt but don’t know it because his government hasn’t told them.

Source: BBC to end free licences for over-75s next month | The Independent

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Tories STILL have no strategy to provide PPE in coming second wave of Covid-19

Back to improvisation: the UK’s medics will be forced to resort to cobbling together their own weak imitation of protective equipment in the second wave of Covid-19, if Boris Johnson has his way.

The UK government does not have a clear strategy to acquire and distribute the equipment needed to protect clinical and care workers in a second wave of coronavirus, parliament’s spending watchdog has warned.

Here‘s The Guardian:

The public accounts committee on Wednesday insisted that ministers should return after the summer with a detailed explanation of how they plan to stock the NHS and care sector with gowns, masks, eye protection and gloves.

MPs on the cross-party committee said they were “extremely concerned” by shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and said the government was still developing plans for replenishing current stocks if there was a further outbreak.

It follows a national outcry during the pandemic when some health and care workers were forced to improvise – sometimes using rubber gloves and bin liners – while treating those with the disease.

More than 300 health and care workers have so far died of Covid-19, and many NHS staff groups and families claim that inadequate PPE played a key role in exposing them to the virus.

The Tories cancelled supplies of PPE before Covid-19 arrived in the UK, allegedly in the belief that it would not be needed.

It seems Boris Johnson still believes there’s no need for such life-saving equipment in the NHS.

Don’t blame me – I didn’t elect him. Who did?

Source: UK has no clear PPE strategy for second wave of coronavirus, MPs warn | World news | The Guardian

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