Tag Archives: Chris

#ForeignOffice admits it was wrong to deny #BorisJohnson authorised Afghan animal evacuation

The Foreign Office has admitted misleading MPs over whether Boris Johnson authorised the evacuation of Pen Farthings dog rescue charity Nowzad from Afghanistan last year.

But you won’t realise that from looking at the BBC report!

Foreign Office boss admits error over Afghan animal evacuation reads as though Johnson had nothing to do with it.

And you have to read a long way into the story to discover that Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, was saying that he had not seen emails sent within his department, indicating that Boris Johnson did indeed authorise the evacuation.

If he did, then he lied about it to the media afterwards, when it was suggested that he had prioritised animals over human beings.

People the UK abandoned in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over have since tried to reach this country via the refugee route – crossing the Channel – and this has led to at least one death.

Appearing before the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday, the prime minister’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Nigel Casey was asked if he knew whether the PM had intervened “in the evacuation of Nowzad staff or animals” and replied: “Not to my knowledge.”

In  written evidence to the committee, published on Wednesday, Sir Philip denied that Mr Casey had received “any correspondence referring to the prime minister’s intervention in the Nowzad case”.

This was contradicted in leaked emails published by the committee subsequently.

And BBC Newsnight’s Sima Kotecha has seen two emails with the subject heading “Pen Farthing and dogs”, showing the Foreign Office and Mr Casey sought guidance from No 10 over the issue.

So now Sir Philip has had to write back to the committee, apologising for misleading its members.

But he stuck to the part of the story covering his involvement:

“As Nigel said to the committee on [Tuesday] he has no recollection of having seen emails in which staff attributed this decision to the prime minister. Nor do I.”

Downing Street is saying that the decision may have been interpreted as coming from Johnson when that was not the case – but it has provided no evidence to support this claim.

So Labour’s Chris Bryant, a member of the committee, is well within his rights to say (as he did on BBC Breakfast News): “All I want to know is who made the decision?”

We all want to know that, Chris. At the moment it seems clear that Johnson has lied again and our civil servants are disgracing themselves in their haste to cover up for him.

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If #Partygate #blackmail claims are false, why is this man taking them to the police?

William Wragg: he’ll soon be talking to the police about blackmail in Parliament.

The MP who claimed Tory whips were blackmailing other MPs to withhold letters of “no confidence” in Boris Johnson is taking his allegation to the police.

William Wragg reckons he has evidence that will justify a police investigation, despite claims from 10 Downing Street that it has seen no such information, and from Johnson loyalists that the scandal is nonsense.

Mr Wragg said he will see a police officer on Monday because he wanted to leave any investigation to “experts” rather than Number 10. His faith may be misplaced – consider the way the Metropolitan Police has ignored allegations that parties happened in Downing Street when officers were standing guard at the door.

Chris Bryant, chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, said he had spoken to about a dozen Tory MPs who claimed whips threatened to withdraw funding for their constituencies, including for campaigning and infrastructure such as bypasses and schools.

He said some had alleged that Johnson himself has been doing this, describing such behaviour as “misconduct in public office”. He agreed with Mr Wragg that is was a matter for the police.

He also said the allegations seemed to be part of an erosion of standards that had been taking place over a period of years.

Nusrat Ghani would probably agree with him, although This Writer isn’t sure anybody has asked her.

She lost her job as a transport minister in a mini-reshuffle in February 2020 and has now said she was told it was because her religion – she’s a Muslim – was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.

This seems likely in a Party that has been riddled with accusations of Islamophobia for years – including allegations against Johnson.

Apparently chief whip Mark Spencer has claimed this accusation relates to him but is false.

Well…

“I had to listen to a monologue on how hard it was to define when people are being racist and that the party doesn’t have a problem and I needed to do more to defend it.

“It was very clear to me that the whips and No 10 were holding me to a higher threshold of loyalty than others because of my background and faith.”

said Ms Ghani.

I think she should join Mr Wragg’s interview with the police officer early next week.

And Mark Drakeford, Wales’s First Minister, whose Covid-19 policies have safeguarded the population here so much better than Johnson’s have in England, has said Johnson’s plan to ease ‘Plan B’ health protections (you may call them restrictions) is probably a distraction tactic.

“Everything that goes on in Whitehall and Westminster at the moment for the UK government is seen exclusively through the lens of, how does this make a difference to the efforts that are being made to shore-up the position of the prime minister,” he said.

“This is a government that at the moment is simply not capable of doing the ordinary business of government in a competent and sensible way because it is overwhelmed by the headlines that surround dreadful events that went on in Downing Street.”

He also said:

“The prime minister is someone who’s been sacked from two previous jobs for not telling the truth.

“I think The Times wrote an editorial on the eve of the December 2019 election pointing to the many flaws in the prime minister’s record and in many ways, I think what you see is his history catching up with him.”

There’s a lot of accuracy in that, I reckon.

Even if he slithers out of the Partygate accusations, it seems Johnson may be sunk by his efforts to avoid being backstabbed by his own MPs.

Source: ‘History catching up with’ PM, Wales first minister claims – as more details of No 10 parties are revealed

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Chris Packham’s house firebombed – because he campaigns for conservation?

Inferno: the exploding Land Rover damaged the gates beyond repair.

At a time of worldwide animal extinctions and potentially irreparable damage to the ecosystem, what kind of psychopath firebombs the house of a conservationist who campaigns to save our wildlife?

Shockingly, masked intruders parked a Land Rover outside a Hampshire house belonging to TV naturalist Chris Packham last weekend and set fire to it. This was the day before he was due to deliver a 100,000-signature petition to Buckingham Palace, calling for the Royal Family to conserve nature on Crown estates and to reintroduce species like beavers and wild boar.

Mr Packham himself has attributed the attack to online trolls:

He said: “These people are angry at some of the things that I campaign against.” He campaigns against the wilful destruction of our natural environment! How can anybody be angry about that?

Sadly, This Writer can understand and sympathise with much of his experience with online trolls.

It is very easy to whip up extreme hatred on (for example) Twitter. I’m currently fighting a court case against another TV personality, who claims that her own behaviour on that platform didn’t encourage her Twitter followers to bully and intimidate a teenage girl with mental health problems. My question is simple: if she didn’t focus her followers on that girl, who does she say did?

Mr Packham says the social media companies have done nothing to enable justice or prevent hatred from being whipped up, and I am (again) inclined to agree.

But the Tory government is (allegedly) putting legislation through Parliament to change that. The Online Harms Bill will propose penalties for such behaviour.

I am eagerly awaiting it. Depending on what measures are finally imposed, it may be the best thing this Tory government does.

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Chris Bryant’s Peruvian nightmare: Labour centrist owned by Latin America lecturer

Chris Bryant: He still hasn’t learnt that careless tweeting can cost careers.

What an embarrassment for entitled Blairite Starmerite Chris Bryant!

He wanted to make a point about those damned lefty Marxists and ended up being humiliated by somebody who actually knew something about the subject matter.

Bryant came to grief after tweeting about the Peruvian presidential election, that was won by left-wing teacher Pedro Castillo. He promptly selected Marxist Guido Bellido as his prime minister.

Bryant tweeted: “Perú is a wonderful country but it’s depressing that voters were left with a choice between Fujimori and Castillo. Sadly the new cabinet looks set to take the country down a failed Marxist route.”

A what?

Which “failed Marxist” route is that?

A nonexistent one.

Marxism is not a social/political system – it is a critique of Capitalism. Bryant was probably groping for a reference to Communism – which is a global political/economic model. Marx didn’t expect it to work except on a global level (anything smaller and the surrounding Capitalists would crush it), so it’s unlikely that Castillo is likely to try it.

It is astonishing, not only that a member of the Labour Party doesn’t know this, but that a Labour Parliamentarian is this ignorant.

It suggests that the party’s recruitment/selection process has gone seriously awry – as Alan McLeod stated in a response to Bryant.

Who’s he? Well, we’ll all know momentarily but for the time being let’s just say his Twitter bio told us he “mostly tweet[s] about US and Latin American politics”.

This time, he tweeted, “It is truly extraordinary that a Labour MP in south Wales could say such a thing. It goes to show how bought out the party has become.” Living in Wales as This Writer does, I can only take this as a reference to the fact that south Walians are, generally speaking, socialists – and that it is therefore amazing that Bryant – not a socialist – ever managed to get selected.

From what I can see, it seems this former Conservative was parachuted in by the Blair leadership. So it may be unsurprising that his understanding of Marxism is so poor.

Indeed.

It seems Bryant was stung. He responded by demanding to know his interlocutor’s credentials – and that’s where he really came unstuck:

“I’ve got a PhD in Latin American politics, lectured about it in universities, and have produced a book and five peer-reviewed journal articles on the topic.”

Even then, Bryant wouldn’t let it lie. He thought of a comeback – and came even more unstuck:

So now Chris Bryant’s credentials as a Labour representative are utterly shattered.

Postscript: This isn’t even the first time Bryant fell foul of Twitter!

Back in August 2018, social media users descended on him like a pack of wolves after he accused someone of anti-Semitism for using the slang term “gammon” to refer to Mike Gapes.

He tried to protest that he thought it was a reference to Jewish people not eating meat from pigs when in fact it was an insult against middle-aged or older white men with conservative, traditionalist views, stereotypically characterized as having a red or flushed complexion.

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Bryant admonished by Hoyle over ‘face-pulling’ during PMQs. Shame it was nothing to do with Johnson

Chris Bryant: what did he do?

Politics has come to a pretty pass when Chris Bryant pulling faces at the Speaker is more interesting than Prime Minister’s Questions!

That’s what appears to have happened today (December 9).

During the weekly exchange between Boris Johnson and Labour leader Keir Starmer, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle halted proceedings and addressed Bryant:

It seems Bryant had left the chamber but returned later, standing next to the Speaker’s chair for a hushed discussion, at the end of which, Hoyle was heard saying, “Mr Bryant I think we need this conversation later.”

Bryant shrugged. Some say he was heard saying, “Fine.” And then he left the chamber.

Speculation about what it was that Bryant actually did to cause such ire in the Speaker has been rife:

Some of the news websites are claiming that Bryant’s offence was simply standing in front of a door.

According to Politics Home,

One backbencher who was sat in the Commons said the row was about where Bryant was standing, allegedly in front of a door that had been left open for ventilation.

The MP said: “The speaker told him to move and he wouldn’t. They then had a face pulling and finger pointing contest.”

If true, it is a shame. Bryant’s reputation would have soared if he had been pulling faces at Johnson, as this now-deleted tweet indicates:

It reads: “Good to see Chris Bryant chased out of the House by the Speaker for pulling a slightly quizzical face which was clearly putting the Prime Minister off from telling his intergalactic lies.”

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If political interference in anti-Semitism complaints is wrong, why was Chris Williamson expelled from Labour?

Chris Williamson: he was dismissed from the Labour Party after political interference – in extremely bad faith – by right-wing Labour MPs, some of whom are now among Keir Starmer’s chief lieutenants. Shouldn’t THEY now be suspended and investigated?

I called it at the time.

Last year, Chris Williamson’s Labour Party membership was suspended amid false allegations of anti-Semitism. There was an investigation, the charge was upheld (wrongly, in my view) and he was punished for it with a formal warning.

Then a roll-call of the usual suspects – bad-faith Labour MPs acting on an agenda (in my opinion), along with that fake charity the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and others – demanded his re-suspension after the details were leaked to the press. They had their way and he was dismissed from the party.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report, published yesterday – ruling that there was no “institutional antisemitism” in the Labour Party during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – has condemned political interference of exactly this kind.

Referring to the Williamson case, the EHRC report points out that Williamson “successfully challenged the decision to reopen the complaint in the High Court. The court found that: ‘it is not … difficult to infer that the true reason for the decision in this case was that members were influenced by the ferocity of the outcry following the June decision … the NEC should decide cases fairly and impartially in accordance with the rules and evidence; and not be influenced by how its decisions are seen by others. Internal and press reaction to a decision are not of themselves proper grounds for reopening a case that was not otherwise procedurally unfair or obviously wrong.”

The EHRC does not make any recommendations that could lead to those responsible for the reopening of the Williamson case to be penalised.

But it does call for the current leadership to implement clear rules and guidance that prohibit and sanction political interference in the complaints process, and to acknowledge the effect that political interference has had on the handling of antisemitism complaints.

It occurs to This Writer that such an acknowledgement should include punishment of those responsible in the Chris Williamson fiasco – for bringing the party into disrepute in the way they did.

They are [shadow ministers in bold]: Tom Watson, Holly Lynch, Stella Creasy, Anna Turley, Rosie Duffield, Louise Ellman, Ruth Smeeth, Jenny Chapman, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Stephen Doughty, Karin Smyth, Baroness Thornton, Lord McNicol, Baroness Morgan of Huyton, Lord Turnberg, Gloria de Piero, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Yvette Cooper, Baroness Massey of Darwen, Baroness Kingsmill, Lord Soley, Madeleine Moon, Kate Green, Ruth Cadbury, Owen Smith, Seema Malhotra, Liz Kendall, Chris Matheson, Margaret Hodge, Stephen Kinnock, Jeff Smith, Chris Bryant, Wes Streeting, Julie Elliott, Lord Levy, Lord Knight of Weymouth, Lord Harris of Haringey, Ali McGovern, James Frith, Lucy Powell, Bridget Phillipson, Pat McFadden, Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall, Lord Triesman, Lord Dubs, Ian Murray, Darren Jones, Alex Sobel, Karen Buck, Neil Coyle, Lord Mandelson, Anna McMorrin, Chi Onwurah, Baroness Taylor of Bolton, Lord Willie Bach, Susan Elan Jones, Ged Killen, Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, Lord Livermore, Kevin Barron, Dan Jarvis, Jess Phillips, Martin Whitfield, Rachel Reeves, Peter Kyle, Baroness Armstrong of Hilltop, Lord Young of Norwood Green, Ellie Reeves, Baroness Maggie Jones, Rushanara Ali, Debbie Abrahams, Daniel Zeichner, Lilian Greenwood, Graham Jones, Toby Perkins, Lord George Robertson, Baroness Mary Goudie, Barry Sheerman, Tonia Antoniazzi, Ian Lucas, Lord George Foulkes, Lord Wood of Anfield, Cat McKinnell, Ben Bradshaw, Lord Haskell, Lisa Nandy, Gareth Thomas, Lord Brooke, Sharon Hodgson, and Lord Kennedy of Southwark.

Will Starmer take appropriate action?

Or will he merely provide further proof of his own unfitness to be Labour leader?

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#Whitty and #Vallance TV briefing shows incompetent Tories failed to contain #Covid19UK while causing maximum public inconvenience

[Image tweeted by The Brexit Comic.]

There’s no way around it: Boris Johnson and his gang of Tory nincompoops have really cocked up the Covid-19 crisis.

That’s the message This Writer took from the televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.

Here’s a summary of what they said, courtesy of that great critic of the Johnson government, Piers Morgan:

Those are the points I got from it too – and here’s my conclusion:

That’s right:

Here’s the rest of what I took from the briefing:

So what can we all expect in the future from Johnson?

More of the same.

He may impose more restrictions on our freedoms but he won’t tell us not to go to work again, because making money for his friends is more important to him than saving our lives.

His policies will be intended to keep hospital admissions within treatable levels – to prevent Covid-19 from overwhelming the UK’s doctors and nurses – as it always has been. But they won’t be about reducing levels of infection to zero because he has never been interested in that. Making money for his friends is more important to him than saving our lives.

Johnson may even try to justify his refusal to impose measures that would eradicate the disease by saying the effect on the economy would cause even more harm to public health. As I tweeted, that’s a political decision – he could legislate to ensure that any such harm is prevented. But he won’t, because making money for his friends is more important to him than saving our lives.

And that means many more people are going to die – your relatives and friends, perhaps. Maybe even you. Because making money for Johnson’s friends is more important to him than saving our lives.

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#SackWhitty and #SackVallance, people are saying – before they’ve even made their broadcast

Chris Whitty: the Chief Medical Officer is facing calls for his removal – before he has even had a chance to broadcast to the nation alongside Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.

New hashtags on social media are calling for the UK’s chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser to be sacked – before they’ve even had a chance to address the public on television.

The broadcast was scheduled for 11am today (September 21) but platforms like Twitter have already been filling up with attacks on Chris Whitty and – notably – Patrick Vallance.

The attacks don’t make much sense.

In fairness to the advisers, we don’t know what their advice to the government has been. Their meetings have taken place behind closed doors and when they have faced the public it has always been under the shroud of shared responsibility – a line has been taken by Johnson government ministers and the advisers are obliged to support it.

So comments like this…

… seem premature.

Worse still is the “blame game” that some people are playing:

“Bent science”? We don’t know that the gentlemen concerned have been bending science in any way at all.

We do know that the politicians have been as bent as the figure “8”, trying to delay lockdown to keep the economy going, trying to shorten lockdown to prevent the economy from being harmed more than it already has been… trying to continue making money for their party donors while people die (or suffer serious health consequences).

And it’s the politicians who have been misusing emergency procurement procedures to funnel vast amounts of public money into the hands of private firms – some running companies that have been dormant for years – that happen to be run by friends of theirs; the socialism of the very rich.

So This Site tends to come down on the side of those who have been standing up for the scientists:

So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt – for a little while, at least.

But let’s also remember…

… other scientific opinions are available.

#Whitty and #Vallance to appeal to the public over #Covid19 – because nobody trusts the Tories any more

Whitty takes over: the chief medical officer – with chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance – will be making a televised address to the nation because nobody trusts the Tories any more. From the state of this image, not even Whitty.

Trust in Conservative ministers has eroded so badly that they have been forced to hand over a televised update to the UK’s chief scientific and medical officers.

Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty – who was last seen shouting at performing monkey prime minister Boris Johnson and his boss Dominic Cummings in a photograph published in The Spectator – will make an appeal to the public to stick to new rules on Monday (September 21).

Whitty and Vallance are likely to compare the UK with other European countries such as France and Spain, which have seen a sharp rise in cases translate – after a lag – into increasing hospitalisations and then deaths. The UK saw 3,899 new cases and 18 deaths on Sunday.

The scientists will set out the latest data on the spread of the disease, and urge people to exercise caution. Whitty is expected to warn: “We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period.”

Their intervention comes after ministers were accused of eroding trust, from failings and broken pledges on testing and tracing to scandals such as Dominic Cummings’ lockdown journeys.

Covid-19 is now on the rise across the UK, among people in all age groups. Cases are doubling each week.

The Tory ministers – like Johnson and Matt Hancock (also seen recoiling from Whitty in that Spectator shot) – are said to be hoping the scientists’ broadcast will help bring home the message that tough new restrictions will be unavoidable if the situation fails to improve.

So it is the Tory mailed fist behind the velvet glove: comply with restrictions, including the “rule of six” limit on social gatherings, or see stricter measures imposed.

Source: UK at ‘critical point’ over Covid-19, top scientists to tell public | World news | The Guardian

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Image of #Whitty confronting #Johnson over #Covid19 goes viral. What WAS he saying?

Whitty furious: but what was the UK’s chief medical officer saying to the prime minister who has bungled our defence against Covid-19 so badly?

Remember the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? It seems the above image of Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty tearing Boris Johnson a new one has merited many thousands more:

That last tweet seems the most likely to be true, profanity-ridden though it is.

The image accompanied a Spectator article by Robert Peston in which that “magazine” heralded a report by the Office for National Statistics that is likely to say Covid-19 is on the march again everywhere, not just in regional pockets.

It is also likely to say that while the illness is rising in all age groups, it is now most prevalent in young people aged 17-29.

The article goes on to discuss the latest plan to stop the march of the virus, by forcing pubs, clubs and restaurants nationally to turf out customers at 10 pm or reverting to closing them altogether for a couple of weeks.

Apparently the name devised for this is “circuit breaker lockdown”, the aim being to interrupt the progress of the virus by stopping its flow along an established route.

Bit of a misnomer, that, as closing pubs at 10pm isn’t going to stop Covid being spread through them.

In any case, the damage has already been done; it’s fixing the barn door after the chicken has come home to roost.

The simple fact is that Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and their cronies (who don’t like being challenged, according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, remember) should not have reopened pubs in the way they did after such a haphazard campaign to keep a lid on the virus.

And that’s what I suspect Whitty was saying when the image was captured.

The article does highlight the real aim of Johnson’s Covid-related restrictions on our freedoms:

The priority of the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, is to suppress the incidence of the virus to a level that doesn’t prevent the NHS from treating other diseases and conditions.

So the idea is to infect the whole nation, piecemeal – presumably in the hope of eventually achieving that mythical “herd immunity” Johnson mentioned to Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby back in March.

And never mind how many people die or suffer permanent health consequences as a result. Charming.

Peston, and the Spectator, also suggests that Johnson and his government “moved too late to prevent the first wave”, and “eventually applied the sledgehammer of total lockdown at huge economic cost”.

This seems characteristic of many right-wing periodicals; they are deserting the Tories – and in fact have started to criticise them hotly over the Covid fiasco.

Guardian article points out that the same magazine – The Spectator – ran a “Where’s Boris?” cartoon on its front cover “featuring a distant blond dot on a tiny boat bobbing rudderless and oarless on a stormy sea”.

The Daily Mail had reached a similar conclusion. “Boris: We’ve Failed” the front-page headline blared, with the paper claiming it had warned of a “looming test crisis five months ago”.

“Too often the government has over-promised and under-delivered,” concluded a leader in the Times on Friday morning. “Policies have had to be swiftly abandoned after the exposure of entirely predictable problems,” the centre-right broadsheet continued, adding the A-level fiasco and the problems with the contact-tracing app for good measure.

Of course they’re not willing to shift loyalty away from the Tories altogether… at least, not yet.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, for all his attempts to drag his party back into Tory orbit (and perhaps because of it) has failed to impress anybody apart from the most fervent haters of the man he replaced, Jeremy Corbyn. That party will need to find a new leader with a drop of socialism in his blood and a penchant for a decent soundbite. That’s not happening any time soon.

But just look at that picture.

This Writer has never seen a middle-aged bald man look so ready to smash somebody else’s face in – and I make that statement as a middle-aged, bald man myself.

It seems clear that Johnson is at a crossroads – but has probably sold his soul to the devil already. He’s on a road to a Hell of his own making – the question now is whether he’ll drag us all down with him.

Source: With scientists divided, it’s time for politicians to decide | The Spectator