Tag Archives: concern

Raab was wrong: process that made Lebedev a peer can be easily perverted

Dominic Raab: as Foreign Secretary, he refused to return from a foreign holiday when the Taliban took over Afghanistan – and the public reacted appropriately. Should we really expect his comments on Lord Lebedev to be any more reliable than his reaction to that crisis?

We should not be surprised that Dominic Raab has emitted a flurry of falsehoods in defence of Evgeny Lebedev’s elevation to the House of Lords.

His prime minister, Boris Johnson, has been accused of creating a security risk to the UK by letting the son of a former Russian KGB agent have access to Parliamentary documents via the front door.

So Raab appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Programme spouting a lot of nonsense that “There is a very strict and stringent process when anyone is granted a peerage” and that the rules around the honours process were “applied very rigorously in this case. This was done properly and correctly and we have procedures and systems in place to make sure it is.”

It is possible that he was right in all these statements but they are nonsense because the procedures he described do not prevent people who are a huge security risk from being granted a peerage.

We know about this because The Guardian told us, back in October 2020 [boldings mine]:

Two days before Johnson met Lebedev in March [he did this on March 19, right after telling us all to stay in our homes because of Covid-19, so this happened on March 17], the House of Lords appointments commission (Holac), which scrutinises all nominations, wrote to the prime minister. It is understood to have expressed concerns about Lebedev’s proposed peerage and asked Downing Street to reconsider.

The commission, made up of cross-party peers, carries out “propriety checks” on candidates. It does not have the power of veto. But it can suggest that a party come up with an alternative, which is what is understood to have happened in Lebedev’s case.

Peers were apparently alarmed following a confidential briefing from the UK security services. They told the commission Lebedev was viewed as a potential security risk because of his father, Alexander Lebedev, a one-time Moscow spy. During the late cold war period, Lebedev Sr worked undercover at the Soviet embassy in London. His real employer was KGB foreign intelligence.

In reality, the security risk has been defined as low – because peers do not see classified documents.

But in reluctantly accepting Johnson’s insistence on ennobling the Russian-born son of a spy, Holac allegedly called on Johnson to examine Russian influence in the House of Lords, something highlighted by parliament’s intelligence and security committee in its Russia Report.

And the security services said Lebedev’s “family links” meant he was still regarded as a potential concern.

So Keir Starmer’s call for Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to review all the reports on Lord Lebedev that Holac saw seemed entirely reasonable and proportionate.

Downing Street’s claim that “all peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission” fails to acknowledge that Holac can’t veto an appointment, which always remains within the gift of the prime minister. Neither does Raab’s.

So these government representatives, it seems, are deceiving us about their treatment of a potential Russian security risk at a time of high international tensions between the UK and Russia. Fit to lead?

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Coronavirus: the Tories have LIED about the daily death toll – INCREASING fears. Why?

Take a look at this headline:

Is it working? UK records 43 coronavirus deaths in past 24 hours compared to 87 yesterday

You can see it in situ by following the link at the bottom of the article. It was a Daily Mail headline on March 25.

It’s a lie, of course – but this time the Mail doesn’t seem to be to blame.

No, this time it’s the Tory government who seem to be at fault.

It wasn’t realistic for the government to claim that the number of deaths had halved, so early in the pandemic’s residence in the UK.

So the BBC’s Newsnight questioned it – and was told by the government that that it cannot add deaths to the total as they happen, because it has to obtain the permission of each family before it can do so.

This is not true.

There is no law – covering data protection or otherwise – requiring family members to give their permission before a death can be added to the total attributed to the coronavirus.

It’s just a number, you see; no personal details are being passed on.

The government had also changed the time at which the number of new deaths was reported, meaning there had been a shorter period between reports.

And according to Skwawkbox, it seems deaths at home, in care homes and in hospital A&E units have also been omitted.

Why indeed – in response to both questions.

Figures for the following day (March 26) showed an increase of 115 – more than on both the previous two days – showing that the number of fatalities is still increasing.

So the only logical reason for the Tories to lie is contradicted – the number of deaths per day clearly is not falling.

So if we have learnt anything, it is that we cannot trust the figures the Conservative government is providing; the true figure may be much higher than they have said.

So, far from allaying fears about the deadliness of the virus, Boris Johnson and his cronies have only increased them.

Source: Coronavirus UK: Daily death toll halves, rising by 43 to 465 | Daily Mail Online

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MP raises ‘grave concern’ over PIP benefit assessors – and he’s a TORY

As seen on Twitter: but a new Conservative MP has raised concerns about the “abrasive” assessment process.

Did somebody forget to send Anthony Mangnall the memo?

Normally, Conservative MPs pay little attention – perhaps only lip-service – to complaints about employees of the private company Atos who are hired at great cost to assess claims for the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment.

But Mr Mangnall – elected as MP for Totnes last December – has actually paid attention to the concerns of benefit claimants and raised them with ministers.

Constituents’ complaints were echoed by the town’s Citizens Advice service; perhaps that’s what convinced him that the issue was important.

Mr Mangnall told Disability News Service:

“If people are complaining about the Atos service, then that is a problem and it is a problem we need to look into.”

He said Justin Tomlinson, the minister for disabled people, had assured him that PIP assessors were “experts in understanding the effects of a health condition on an individual’s daily life” and that the department continued to “monitor performance, share best practice, and work with claimants, stakeholders and charities to improve training and guidance”.

But Mr Mangnall doesn’t seem entirely convinced:

Mangnall has told Disability News Service (DNS) that he wants to ask further questions of ministers if he can secure more evidence to show that the process should be improved, because he believes it is currently “letting the side down”.

“I have got some fantastic constituents and this is a headache that they do not need.

“They need support from us and they don’t need a bureaucratic system like this holding them up, with people who don’t understand their situation.”

He has asked DNS for details of its lengthy investigation into dishonest PIP assessors.

The cynic in This Writer wants to take bets on how long it will take for Mr Tomlinson and fellow Tory ministers to get Mr Mangnall to shut up.

But hope springs eternal.

Let’s hope DNS can keep Mr Mangnall dedicated to the case. The hordes of people who have been betrayed by PIP assessors deserve it.

Source: Tory MP tells minister of jobcentre staff’s ‘grave concern’ over PIP assessors – Disability News Service

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Apple raises concerns over UK’s draft surveillance bill


The Conservative Party’s plan to monitor your every communication has been dealt another body-blow.

It seems the major software and social media corporations have pointed out that any UK legislation must not conflict with the laws of other nations – nations that are almost certain to have less restrictive laws than are planned by Theresa May’s thought police.

Apple has raised concerns about the UK’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

It focuses on three issues: encryption, the possibility of having to hack its own products, and the precedent it would set by agreeing to comply with UK-issued warrants.

The BBC has also learned that Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Twitter have also filed their own responses to the committee, which will publish the details in due course.

None of the companies have disclosed what they have said.

However, a spokesman for Microsoft commented: “The legislation must avoid conflicts with the laws of other nations and contribute to a system where like-minded governments work together, not in competition, to keep people more secure. We appreciate the government’s willingness to engage in an open debate and will continue to advocate for a system that is workable on a global basis.”

The Home Secretary Theresa May said in November that the new law was needed to fight crime and terror.

Source: Apple raises concerns over UK’s draft surveillance bill – BBC News

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Chances of Labour-SNP alliance are dwindling due to nationalists’ own strategy

SNPlogo

Now even shadow cabinet members are speaking openly against any alliance with the SNP, post-election.

Vox Political has previously reported on Labour backbenchers’ concerns that any link with the Scottish nationalists would make a future Labour government vulnerable to a partner who would walk out when it best suited them – and least suited Labour.

Now it seems this concern has spread to shadow minister. Andrew Rawnsley has reported in The Guardian: “A growing number within the shadow cabinet … are urging a much more emphatically anti-SNP message.

“One of them says that Labour now needs to say ‘loud and clear’ that it would not treat with the nationalists as ‘a party that wants to tear the United Kingdom apart’.

“Another agrees: ‘We’re going to have to say no deal with the SNP.’

“It is also necessary, they argue, to disabuse Scottish voters of the notion that voting SNP will give them a perfect world in which David Cameron is thrown out of Number 10 and Scots hold sway at Westminster.

“Senior Labour figures also contend that striking any sort of bargain with the SNP would be such a strategic mistake that they should never countenance doing one anyway.

“Says a member of the shadow cabinet: ‘If we do a deal with the nationalists, my fear is that it will not just be the end of the Labour party in Scotland, it will be the end of the Labour party in England.’”

This is bad news indeed for supporters of the nationalist party, who were banking on being able to tell Scottish voters that Labour was a spent force in their country – and then convince them that voting SNP would give them a strong voice in an alliance with the same party in Westminster. It isn’t logical, but that’s what they’ve been saying.

And the nationalists are now finding themselves in bed with the Conservative Party, in their attacks on Labour.

North of the border, the SNP tells voters Labour is too similar to the Tories (this is, of course, a lie).

South of the border, the Tories are telling voters Labour is too willing to ally with the nationalists.

The two claims are mutually exclusive. A party that was similar to the Tories would never ally with the SNP, and the SNP would never ally with a party that was similar to the Tories.

But that doesn’t matter because they are being made to different sets of voters. It’s only when these fictions are presented side-by-side that they look as ridiculous as they really are.

Either way, the result will be the same, if voters are persuaded by these false arguments. As Rawnsley writes: “The Tories and SNP suggest that a vote for the nationalists will be a vote for a Labour government. The reverse is much more likely to be the case.

“What a mighty irony it would be if voting SNP were to put David Cameron back in Downing Street.

That outcome might secretly delight the leadership of the SNP.

It is rather more doubtful that it would please many of the Scots currently saying they plan to vote nationalist.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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