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Nazanin to go back before Iranian court to face new charges – linked to Johnson’s blunder

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman has become a pawn in an international power struggle.


Just when it seemed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Iranian prison ordeal was coming to an end, she’s being dragged back into court.

And that country’s officials have taken great pleasure in letting us know that her plight is due to blundering Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime muppet.

Johnson was the idiot who blurted out in Parliament – in 2017, when he was Foreign Secretary – that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been “training journalists”.

She had been doing nothing of the kind.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, she had been doing nothing more sinister than visiting her family for the Persian New Year celebration when she was arrested in 2016.

But the Iranian authorities seized on Johnson’s idiotic remark and threatened to use it to add five more years to her five-year prison sentence.

Now – three years after Johnson misspoke, it seems they have decided to follow through on the threat:

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife will appear in court on Sunday accused of “spreading propaganda against the regime” in Iran.

Apparently that’s how they describe the teaching of journalism – which she wasn’t doing in any event.

Of course we all know that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment has more to do with the £400 million that the UK government owes to Iran.

It could not be paid before because of international sanctions – but when Boris Johnson’s career was in danger, it seems such concerns evaporated.

How contrary, then, for us to find that the money has not been paid, apparently because Johnson doesn’t want to upset Donald Trump.

Johnson, it seems, wanted to wait until after the US presidential election on November 3 because he wanted to know whether Trump would still be US president before taking action.

So the Iranian decision to go back to court now has put him in a particularly sticky situation.

Will he pay up and get Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe back?

Or will he delay, to stay on the right side of Donald Trump?

I think we all know the answer to that. Johnson is the runt of international politics.

When powerful people squabble, it is always the innocents who suffer.

Source: New Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe charges linked to Boris Johnson’s infamous gaffe – Mirror Online

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Vox Political scrapbook: June 7

The Metropolitan Police has joined the government in losing public confidence after reacting with violence during a peaceful anti-racism protest:

Would that be Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick?

The Covid-19 infection rate in the UK is rising:

And the (official) death toll has passed 40,000:

Labour has no moral high ground on the race issue:

Labour is a cesspit if one of the party’s MPs can be shamed into deleting a link to a perfectly reasonable article:

And the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has responded to his detractors:

Vigilantism has arisen in the US:

Who can blame them, considering the state of their police?

But protest is not about to die down:

US President Trump has done an about-face on George Floyd:

But we all know what he is, anyway:

By the way, that stuff he has been taking to keep Covid-19 at bay? It doesn’t work:

More government claims:

But hasn’t the government already lowered its standards? There’s a new petition to stop the importing of chlorinated chicken:

More claims about the government:

And Dominic Cummings is still hated and ridiculed:

 

If you hear Boris Johnson making a claim, it’s probably a lie – as his PMQs performance proves

Duper’s delight: This is the smile Boris Johnson wears when he is lying. He would have been wearing it in Parliament during PMQs but he was too busy wagging his hands around.

How reassuring it was to hear Boris Johnson claim that the bursary for trainee nurses has been restored and that hospital parking is free.

There’s just one small issue: trainee nurses shouldn’t apply for that bursary and anyone visiting hospital should bring their cash with them.

Because both of Johnson’s claims were lies.

The UK now has a prime minister so dishonourable, so low, that he thinks nothing of telling falsehoods to the nation, wholesale.

In Prime Minister’s Questions, he boasted: “We’ve restored the nurses’ bursary, introduced a bill to ensure a record cash boost for our NHS, and ensured there is free hospital car parking for everybody who attends a hospital.”

That reminds me: adjust the figures for inflation and his “record cash boost for our NHS” turns out to be nothing of the sort.

Here’s Nursing Notes on Johnson’s lies:

While a new educational grant of up to £8,000 per year will be offered to all nursing students on courses from September 2020, it falls significantly short of the bursary system previously scrapped by the Conservative Party as students will graduate with up to £60,000 of debt.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has previously confirmed that from April 2020 some hospital staff and visitors will be entitled to free parking. However, this will be limited to blue badge holders and the parents of sick children staying overnight.

And for those of you who prefer audio-visual records:

Source: ‘Nursing bursary restored and hospital parking is free’, insists PM | NursingNotes

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Mum’s court challenge against DWP demand for UC claimants to go into childcare debt

Why should the Department for Work and Pensions demand that parents on Universal Credit go into debt over childcare costs?

Current rules say parents can get up to £646 per month for each child under 16, funding 85 per cent of their care costs – but they must pay those costs up-front and claim them back later, putting them in debt.

Some end up thousands of pounds in the red.

The DWP says this is to prevent fraud – but there are ways to do this that don’t push people into debt.

Just off the top of This Writer’s head: what’s wrong with having a letter from the provider, saying exactly what the costs will be in advance? That proof is as good as anything else.

The rule may be unlawful, discriminatory, and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (which I should remind readers is nothing to do with the EU and therefore is something by which they UK must still abide).

Now, single mum Nichola Salvato is demanding a judicial review of the DWP’s dodgy rule.

She also happens to be a professional benefits advisor and is supported by Save the Children – so it seems likely that she knows her facts.

But will a ruling against the DWP do any good? Tories aren’t very good at following laws they don’t like – and the general election handed them far too much power to do anything they feel like.

Source: Single mum takes DWP to High Court after Universal Credit hurled her into childcare debt – Mirror Online

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Is Arcuri cashing in on relationship with Boris Johnson?

TV interview: It has been alleged that Jennifer Arcuri is charging six-figure sums for appearances and here she is on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Jennifer Arcuri, the woman implicated in the Boris Johnson ‘conflict of interest’ scandal, is apparently cashing in on her new notoriety.

According to The Guardian, a US lawyer claiming to act on behalf of Arcuri said he was inviting media outlets, including British publications, to bid six-figure sums for an interview with her.

It seems ITV’s Good Morning Britain may have coughed up that kind of cash – for all the good it did. Ms Arcuri appeared, but refused to say anything indicative about her relationship with Mr Johnson.

The latest development in the scandal is a claim that the prime minister, as Mayor of London, wrote a letter of recommendation for Ms Arcuri to get a job as head of a technology quango called Tech City.

She was a 27-year-old student when she applied for the £100,000-a-year job in 2012 – and didn’t get it.

She has claimed that Mr Johnson did not help her at all, although in an email leaked to The Guardian, she allegedly later wrote: “I still have the letter of rec from Boris. hahaha. To think that we asked him to write us a recommendation for the CEO of Tech City is just hysterical.”

The US businesswoman accompanied Mr Johnson on three overseas trade missions led by the then mayor, after initially being turned down for two of them. Her companies were also awarded £126,000 of public money.

Now it seems she is getting the same kind of cash for five minutes saying nothing worth hearing on national television.

It seems her relationship with BoJob is still paying off.

Source: Johnson reportedly wrote letter backing Arcuri for quango job | Politics | The Guardian

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Almost three-quarters of people hit by the Bedroom Tax are sick or disabled

Iain Duncan Smith was the architect of the hated Bedroom Tax.

Was the so-called Bedroom Tax a tool to attack people with long-term illnesses and disabilities?

That seems to be the conclusion we reach from an answer to a Parliamentary question by minister for welfare delivery Will Quince.

He said by April 2019, 240,350 households had been affected by the State Under-Occupation Charge – the penalty inflicted on Housing Benefit claimants who have a spare bedroom.

Of these, a staggering 170,360 households – 71 per cent of the total – included a person in receipt of sickness or disability benefit.

Figures for Universal Credit claimants – whose Housing Benefit is included in the amount they receive under this benefit – were not available.

It seems clear that the penalty disproportionately affects people with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities, and we may speculate that this is what it was intended to do.

We know the United Nations has ruled that this discrimination is a “grave and systematic violation” of the human rights of those affected.

And we know that the government has had to re-write the laws governing the bedroom tax, to exempt couples who cannot share a bedroom due to a physical disability and families who need an extra room for a disabled child’s carer.

We are told that the Bedroom Tax, together with other changes to benefits, has left sick and disabled people four times worse-off than their able-bodied equivalents.

And the hardship caused by the withdrawal of 14 per cent of their housing benefit (for one “spare” room; 25 per cent for two) has forced some disabled people to go without food while others went without medicine.

This Site, and others like it, have reported the deaths of a large number of disabled people that may be directly connected to this withdrawal of funds.

The Department for Work and Pensions refuses to admit that there is anything wrong.

But the evidence mounts up further every day.

Source: Disabled people still disproportionally affected by the ‘bedroom tax’

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New Tory PM will have to explain why the NHS is now CHARGING for healthcare

Running away: You can bet Matt Hancock will not want to explain why “free at the point of use” NHS has started charging patients thousands of pounds for procedures that used to be free.

“We are committed to a National Health Service that is free at the point of use,” said any number of Conservative government politicians in the years since Andrew Lansley let parasitical, profit-driven companies start leeching off of it.

Oh really?

Then why has it been revealed that hospitals are starting to charge for large numbers of surgical and other procedures, while our attention has been distracted by the Tory leadership contest?

Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust says it does not choose what procedures are provided free – this is decided by NHS commissioners, who in turn base their decisions on the amount of funding available from the Conservative government.

The implication is clear:

The Tories are forcing poor people to pay thousands of pounds for operations that should be free, because they wanted to give our money to the parasites instead.

This is a scandalous betrayal.

Where is Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s apology? Where is his commitment to ensure that these operations are free at the point of use? Where is his resignation for allowing this to happen at all?

And if these things are not forthcoming:

Where is Theresa May’s apology and order that this change is reversed?

I think we might be told to go whistle for that, too.

If so, it will be for the prime minister who is being chosen at the moment to account for this disgrace.

Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust offers new hips for £18,143 among a list of 71 costly private treatments.

Desperate patients are being left in agony because they cannot afford the private operations on offer at an NHS trust that were once free.

Vital procedures such as hip and knee replacements cost up to £18,143, ­cataracts £2,368 and hernias £7,719, way outside most ordinary people’s budgets.

Source: NHS hospital demands £18k for hip op as trust sells treatments that used to be free – Mirror Online

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MP who claimed Vox Political writer supported anti-Semitism is charged with expenses fraud

Chris Davies: Brecon and Radnorshire’s cartoon MP.

People have been celebrating this all over my Twitter feed today, and I can’t say I blame them. But I have to insert a note of caution.

Yes, Chris Davies, Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, member of the European Research Group (ERG) of Tory eurosceptics and Conservative Friend of Israel who gleefully joined in the accusations when This Writer was falsely accused of anti-Semitism, has been charged with two counts of making a false instrument and one of providing false or misleading information for allowance claims, after allegations he falsified two invoices in support of parliamentary expenses claims.

(That’s expenses fraud, to you and me.)

He will appear before magistrates in Westminster on March 22.

But we all need to remember he has been charged, not convicted.

He is entitled to a fair trial (although that’s more than I had, with regard to the anti-Semitism claims).

If he is found guilty of any or all of the offences, then the voters of Brecon and Radnorshire can have a lot of fun. The reason?

We will be able to petition for his removal as MP, and for a by-election to be held in the the constituency.

If at least 10 per cent of registered electors sign a recall petition, we can have an election and get rid of him.

As far as I’m concerned, that can’t happen soon enough. But it will only happen if justice is served so I must appeal for everyone to withhold their opinions until after the verdict.


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Labour’s kangaroo court issues details of its finding against me – and they don’t even match the charge

Facepalm: Jeremy Corbyn probably thought he could trust senior members of the Labour Party to handle disciplinary procedures impartially. If so, he was mistaken. Now look at the mess they’ve caused.

What a farce!

Today I received a letter from the secretary of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, giving its reasons for saying the charges of anti-Semitism against me were proved.

Of course, they are meaningless.

The letter states:

“Upon the balance of probabilities the charge was proved for reasons including:

  • It was not disputed that you were responsible for the posting the content that the NEC claimed breached Labour Party rules;
  • A reasonable person would find the posted content, that is the basis of the NEC’s charge, to have the propensity to cause offence, be regarded as abusive and make some feel discriminated against;
  • In posting the content you breached the Labour Party’s Antisemitism and other forms of racism code of conduct, Social Media Policy and Member’s Pledge in appendix 9 of the Rule Book.”

Unfortunately none of the above proves the particulars of the charge against me. In fact, all it proves is that whoever complained to the Labour Party about me in the first place – back in May 2017 – had said they were offended by it, that they felt it was abusive, and that they felt I had discriminated against them.

And there can be a huge difference between saying a thing and actually meaning it – especially considering the fact that the accusation was deliberately timed to interfere with my campaign for election onto Powys County Council.

Also, I wonder what the many tens of thousands of reasonable Vox Political readers – who have read the material in question and don’t consider it to be offensive, abusive or discriminatory – think of what the NCC panel has implied about them. Are you one such reader? How do you feel about the NCC claiming you’re not reasonable?

Let us remind ourselves of the particulars of the charge against me:

“Mr Sivier has repeatedly posted content propogating the conspiracy that secretive networks of Jews control and have undue influence over government and other societal institutions. He uses language that is dismissive of antisemitism and that denies Jews the right to self-identify as they wish. This falls fairly and squarely within the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which the Labour Party has adopted.”

During the hearing, I proved conclusively that I had not supported any nonsense about a “global Jewish conspiracy”, nor had I used language that is dismissive of anti-Semitism or that denied Jews the right to self-identify. And none of the words forming the basis of the NEC’s complaint fitted even tangentially within the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

The NCC couldn’t suggest otherwise, so instead it seems the panel came up with the tripe in the letter.

The difference between what’s said in the letter and in the charge is the same as the difference between claiming something and proving it.

I should be grateful. The letter proves two things:

I am not an anti-Semite (the letter makes no suggestion of any hatred towards Jews, simply because they are Jewish) – and Labour’s National Constitutional Committee is a laughing-stock.

Still, there is a serious side to this.

We are currently in the middle of a crisis, engineered by the Conservative government, around Brexit – and Labour is hoping to recruit more members into the Party, possibly to help fight a snap general election.

Here’s an advert from Twitter:

But why would anybody want to join an organisation whose internal procedures are prejudiced against rank-and-file members such as myself?

And why would they want to support a party into government that cannot even root out corruption in its own internal procedures?

It seems clear that Labour has a serious credibility problem, as long as it allows its disciplinary procedures to be run in the corrupt and prejudicial manner demonstrated by my own case.

Worse still, as there is no right of appeal, it seems there is no way the party can cancel its false finding against me.

Still, the difference between the charge and the rationale for the verdict puts Labour in a highly actionable position, so perhaps we will be able to sort out this mess in court.

The timing is unfortunate, as the party undoubtedly wants to gain ground with the electorate at a time of chaos within the ranks of the Conservatives, but I can’t help that.

Remember Blackstone’s ratio? “The law holds that it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”? I am innocent of the charges against me, but allow me to assure you that although I may present a composed exterior, it is extremely distressing to face accusations of anti-Semitism – especially for the more-than-18-months this has been going on.

If Labour really wanted to gain credibility now, the party’s leaders should have thought very carefully before inflicting this particular injustice on this particular man.

They’d better do something about it quickly – don’t you agree?

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Hospital bosses more than DOUBLE parking charges. Labour vows to abolish them

Hospital parking charges are a shameful tax on patients, carers, families – and staff.

Private parking companies are being allowed to hold both the public and medical workers to ransom – and the increase announced in Yorkshire underlines the fact.

People who work and use hospitals have nowhere else to go, and these operators know it. So raising charges by 136 per cent is an unconscionable betrayal of trust.

(If trust is the right word to use.)

Here’s how the Mirror has reported the matter:

“Hard-up hospital staff have slammed bosses over plans to more than double parking charges.

“The monthly cost could rocket from £15.50 to £36.66 – a rise of 136 per cent.

“The new fees are due to be phased in over the next six months at Scarborough and Bridlington hospitals in Yorkshire.

“Hospitals in England made nearly £70million from charging staff to park at work last year.

“But only £30million went to the NHS with much of the windfall going to private parking firms.”

See? These companies are fleecing us.

Fortunately Jeremy Corbyn has seen the way parking companies are exploiting staff and the public, and has vowed to abolish parking charges across the UK, when the Tories are finally overthrown at the ballot box and Labour returns to office.

As a victim of English hospital parking charges, I can honestly say it won’t come a moment too soon.

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