Tag Archives: crony

Ofqual chief Sally Collier resigns – over letting Cummings chum’s company have contract?

Exams: If Sally Collier had examined Public First a little more closely, she might not have had to resign.

The big development in the ‘A’ level scandal yesterday (August 25) was the resignation of Ofqual boss Sally Collier – apparently under criticism about the algorithm that marked down students from poorer backgrounds.

That’s what Tory mouthpiece the BBC is saying:

Ofqual chief Ms Collier has been under fire for a controversial algorithm which changed GCSE and A-level marks, making them unfair, according to heads.

It also led to many A-level students losing university places they had been offered, and a crunch on degree places.

But didn’t that only happen because Ofqual had hired useless lobbying/research firm Public First, run by friends of Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove?

A spokesperson said: “Due to the exceptional circumstances presented by the cancellation of exams, the single tender justification process was used for this contract, due to the need to urgently procure the work, in line with our procurement policy.”

This comment makes it clear that Public First was hired to find a way forward for students’ exam results. It came up with the infamous algorithm and caused a scandal.

And we now know that the government paid £49,000 for that disaster.

So it seems Ms Collier has resigned, but the fault lies with James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, the people behind Public First.

Other contracts given to the firm under the “no competition” regulations which apply when a service is deemed “urgent” during emergency circumstances include £840,000 to research public opinion on government policies – including Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Not bad for a firm whose registered office is a residential address – a house – in Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire.

Another contract saw the company handed £116,000 by the Department of Health and Social Care to identify ways to “lock in the lessons learned” by the Government during the Covid-19 crisis.

But will the Tories learn the obvious lesson – that Public First should not be hired to carry out any work under any circumstances at all, whether in an emergency or not?

It seems doubtful.

Source: Ofqual chief Sally Collier steps down after exams chaos – BBC News

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Spendthrift Tories have spaffed £500 MILLION on firms run by their friends – that do NOTHING

‘Spaffer’: Boris Johnson is throwing money the UK doesn’t have at his mates’ companies. What will you do when he tells you to pay off the debt?

In a week when we learned the Tories have more than doubled the national debt to £2 trillion, a mere £500 million might not seem much.

It’s around 1/200th, or half a per cent, of the total they’ve borrowed since 2010.

But this is money they have spent in the last six months alone – on contracts with companies run by their personal friends… that have apparently done nothing useful in return.

According to the Labour Party, 13 firms run by friends of Tory ministers have won contracts related to Covid-19, without having to go through a competitive tendering process.

Here’s what they’ve done with the money:

One firm, Randox, received £133million for Covid testing.

It pays Tory MP and former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson £8,333 a month as an adviser.

Earlier this month, 750,000 unused Randox testing kits were ­recalled over safety concerns.

How about the Serco ‘test and trace’ fiasco?

Serco is paid £108million for running the national contact-tracing service and nearly £46million by the DWP to run call centres.

Health minister Edward Argar was a senior executive and boss Rupert Soames is brother of former Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames.

In November 2019, Rupert Soames’ wife Camilla donated £4,995 to the Tory Party.

Here are the other firms mentioned in the Mirror article:

PricewaterhouseCoopers, which won seven contracts, hired Theresa May’s former top aide Gavin Barwell as a strategic adviser in January.

He is also a non-executive adviser at Arcadis – which was given a £1.5million consultancy contract with the Ministry of Justice in April.

Public First Ltd gets £840,000 to run focus groups for No10. It is owned by James Frayne, who started the New Frontiers think tank in 2003 with Dominic Cummings.

Dragontown Ltd was awarded a contract worth £675,000 to supply PPE to London’s Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Lady Xuelin Bates, a director of this firm, is the wife of Tory peer and former minister Lord Bates and has donated £30,000 to the Tories.

If we had anything to show for this emptying of the public purse, there might be some justification for these contracts – but we don’t.

This is nepotism intended to further enrich the undeserving while bankrupting the nation.

Expect Boris Johnson to demand that, now he and his spendthrift mates have run up a huge debt, you have to pay it off.

Source: Firms linked to Tories have won £500m coronavirus contracts without having to bid – Mirror Online

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After private firm linked to Gove & Cummings helped cause ‘A’ level disaster, will new health ‘Institute’ go the same way?

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Dido Harding: Isn’t it funny how McKinsey was hired to work on an organisation fronted by a former McKinsey consultant? Did I type “funny”? I meant “sickening”.

Were you aware that the disastrous strategy to deprive lower-class students of their higher ‘A’ level grades was devised by a firm of consultants, apparently hired because of links to Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings?

I mention this because the same criteria seem to have been used to get advice about the “vision, purpose and narrative” of Matt Hancock’s new public health “institute”.

Public First, a policy and research firm owned by James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, who both formerly worked for Gove, was involved on the project with Ofqual since June after being granted a contract that was not put out to competitive tender.

Details of the contract have not been made public and Ofqual declined to say how much public money had been spent hiring the firm of Tory cronies.

The collaboration led to the result we all know:

The algorithm used by Ofqual downgraded 40% of the A-level grades assessed by teachers under the process set after the exams were cancelled, leading to a storm of protest from students, parents, school leaders and teachers, that culminated in a complete government U-turn on Monday and the system being scrapped.

Most of us would expect the Tories to be coming out with the usual “lessons will be learned” speech right now – but they can’t, because they haven’t.

The Johnson government has already hired McKinsey – under the same “exceptional circumstances” rules used to award the Ofqual contract to Public First – to play the same role.

And guess what? According to the Financial Times, the new National Institute for Health Protection’s boss – Dido Harding – is a former McKinsey consultant.

What a cosy, cronyist world they all inhabit.

There is one difference between the NIHP situation and Ofqual. We know how much of our money McKinsey has been paid: £563,400. At a time when the national debt has just topped £2 trillion, the Johnson government has shovelled another half a million of borrowed cash into private, profit-grubbing hands.

That’s a lot of money for something that I’m happy to bet will be a worse travesty than the ‘A’ level debacle.

Source: Firm linked to Gove and Cummings hired to work with Ofqual on A-levels | Education | The Guardian

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Johnson spits on democracy: he’s putting ousted MP Goldsmith in the Lords to keep him in the Cabinet

Zac Goldsmith: In this image, he appears to be trying to pretend he’s Hugh Grant in the new film Corruption, Actually.

Remember that racist Tory?

No, not Boris Johnson.

The one who ran a despicable campaign to become Mayor of London by making racist comments about Labour candidate (and now Mayor) Sadiq Khan, who was labelled “the Muslim”. Remember him?

His name was Zac Goldsmith. After his racist mayoral campaign failed, he went back to being Tory MP for Richmond – until he was removed from Parliament by the democratic vote of the people on Thursday, December 12.

Apparently that’s not good enough for our prime mop-headed muppet Boris Johnson. He has decided to ennoble Mr Goldsmith, in order to retain him as a Cabinet minister.

It seems that, despite having 365 MPs from whom to choose, Johnson can’t find enough supporters to form a full cabinet without spitting on democracy.

Either that or there aren’t enough racists.

It seems Mr Goldsmith will continue as Environment Secretary.

As a Lord and not a member of the Commons, it will be impossible for MPs to question him on government policies.

But he will be able to vote on all legislation. Does that seem right?

The Electoral Reform Society would say it doesn’t:

It’s cronyism. Johnson is surrounding himself with his gang, in mockery of his own claims to be creating a “People’s government”.

It’s perfectly in character, though – as I tweeted myself:

Source: Zac Goldsmith ‘to get Tory peerage so he can serve as minister’ | Metro News

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POLL: Is the Conservative Party moving towards Fascism?

Take a look at this image of Grant Shapps at the Conservative Party conference:

ShappsHitlerYouth-Reuters

Isn’t the image reminiscent of a member of the Nazi Party in the 1930s, surrounded by Hitler Youth? Even the slogan, “Securing a better future”, could have been written by Goebbels.

Perhaps it is yet another warning that the Party of the Ever-Further-Right could easily become another fascist power. For some, it is a reminder of what the Conservatives have already become.

Consider the questions posed by this image:

fascismposter

How many of these signs do you see in the Tories?

Nationalism? Check – the Tories have encouraged national pride and fear of foreigners and foreign powers, especially the European Union.

Disdain for human rights? Check – the Tories want to scrap the Human Rights Act and remove the protection we receive from the European Court of Human Rights.

Scapegoating? Check – look at the treatment of the sick, disabled and those on benefits.

Sexism? Debatable – David Cameron has struggled to include women in his cabinet.

Controlled mass media? Check – look at the propaganda coming from the BBC.

Obsession with national security? Check – look at the Surveillance Act (for example).

Corporate power protected – Labour power suppressed – disdain for intellectuals and the arts – obsession with crime – cronyism… it is possible to provide blatant examples of all of them in Conservative decisions of the last four and a half years.

Or is it? Notice that links to evidence of this behaviour are absent. This is because Vox Political wants your opinion in our latest poll:

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Cameron’s crony honours show Britain values sycophants more than pioneers

140808cronies

Are you ashamed to be British today? If not, you should be.

David Cameron has handed out a dozen peerages – turned 12 people into Lords – not on the basis of any great work they have done for the benefit of everybody in the United Kingdom, but because they have done work for the benefit of David Cameron.

It is sickening to see how debased our system has become after four years under the thumb of one corrupt brat.

Look at them:

Karen Brady has been the Conservatives’ small business ambassador but rejected offers of a seat in the Commons – clearly in favour of the Lords. You know her as the one who sits next to Alan Sugar and isn’t Nick Hewer, on The Apprentice.

Michael Farmer has donated nearly £6 million to the Conservative Party and is the boss of a hedge fund. Considering the way these organisations have bet on our financial markets’ failure in order to make a buck or two, he should be in jail rather than Parliament.

Ranbir Singh Suri, head of Oceanic Jewellers, has reportedly given the Conservative Party £312,000, either personally or through his company. Have you ever heard of him?

Martin Callanan, former Conservative leader in the European Parliament, receives a peerage in compensation for the loss of his seat in May. Tories look after their own.

Sir Stuart Rose is a former boss of Marks and Spencer who apparently receives his peerage for helping Cameron’s wife Samantha get a £65 limited-edition polka-dot dress which had sold out.

Joanna Shields is a former Facebook executive who is now Cameron’s digital advisor. Now you know why your blogs knocking the Tories keep disappearing from FB or are marked as spam.

Dido Harding is chief executive of Talk Talk, and has done nothing to deserve a peerage. Sitting on Cameron’s business advisory committee doesn’t count.

Andrew Cooper worked for Cameron as his director of political operations and has done nothing to deserve a peerage.

Natalie Evans is director of the New Schools Network, which tries to help groups that want to set up free schools. She has done nothing to deserve a peerage – quite the opposite, judging by her CV.

Carlyn Chisholm is co-chair of the Conservative candidates committee and has done nothing to deserve a peerage.

Nosheena Mobarik is chair of the Confederation of British Industry in Scotland and has done nothing to deserve a peerage.

Arminka Helic was an advisor who worked for William Hague on preventing sexual violence in conflict. This might have the potential to be laudable, but then, you haven’t heard of Arminka Helic before, so how great was the contribution?

The fact that Cameron considers it acceptable to promote cronies into the House of Lords serves as yet another example of what a pathetic, pandering pimp we have squatting in 10 Downing Street.

Any incoming government should instigate a review of all life peerages, judging them by their contribution to society, rather than party political bank balances.

Knowing our Parliament, even that will be corrupted from within.

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Coalition drags out the pain with promise of many more cuts

140205cuts

The BBC has reported findings by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, showing that the Coalition government will be less than halfway through its planned spending cuts by the end of the current financial year (March 31).

The organisation said 60 per cent of the cuts were still to come.

This raises a few urgent questions. Firstly: This government was formed on the promise that it would balance the books by 2015, which presupposes that its entire plan for doing so would be in place long before then. We know that this ambitious claim was dismissed after years of failure, but part of the reason for this failure was that George Osborne stopped a recovery that was already taking place, and which would have led to economic growth of 20 per cent by now, if it had been allowed to continue (according to Michael Meacher MP). My question, therefore, is: Have the Conservatives been working to ensure that they would have an excuse to make more cuts, rather than to restore the economy and balance the deficit?

Secondly: We may presume that these further cuts will be inflicted over a period of years (as even the Tories know it is important to enact change gradually, rather than inflict sudden shocks on the economy that could create entirely unforeseen consequences). Are the Coalition parties assuming that they will be re-elected next year, and is it not supremely arrogant of them to believe this, considering the harm they have caused so far?

Thirdly: If the Coalition parties do want to be re-elected, it is clear that they will need to try to bring a majority of voters back on-side. Therefore we may reasonably expect to see all sorts of gifts coming our way over the next year – tax breaks or whatever else they can devise – aimed at increasing the amount of money in our pockets. However, knowing that 60 per cent of the Tory/Lib Dem cuts process is still to come, this means they will want to make even more cuts if they are returned to office. Why would we want to give them our vote, in return for presents they’ll grab back as soon as they’ve got what they want?

Fourthly: Iain Duncan Smith has inflicted £28 billion of cuts on people receiving benefits from his Department for Work and Pensions. If the IFS statement is accurate, then the total amount he’ll want to cut is a staggering £70 billion. If we consider that the amount spent on pensions (more than £100 billion) is safe, this leaves only tiny amounts for all the other benefits supplied by the DWP. Are people currently on Jobseekers’ Allowance to get nothing in the future? What about disabled people getting DLA or PIP? How about all the many, many people on Employment and Support Allowance, including those currently going through the appeal process because of wrong decisions? Mr… Smith might claim that all these benefits are being rolled into Universal Credit, but that won’t happen until 2016 or 2017 according to his own estimates, and the rest of us know that it’s not going to happen at all. Will we have any benefit system left if these cuts continue – or will the Tories try to trick us into buying duff health and employment insurance policies from their friends at Unum instead?

The BBC report said George Osborne wants a budget surplus by 2018-19, but “additional spending, population growth and extra demands on the NHS meant more cuts were needed”. This statement is not supported by any source material and we may take it this is a further sign of BBC right-wing bias.

The additional spending was made necessary because of unintended consequences of the cuts – the Tories got their sums wrong. Population growth, if due to the EU immigration that everyone complains about, will have led to a net growth in the economy as it has been proved that migrant workers from the European Union contribute more to the Treasury than they ever take out – so this is not a cause of increased spending. If the indigenous British population has been growing faster than expected, let us remember that Child Benefit is to be restricted to the first two children in a family (Cameron has denied it so it must be true) and therefore any further growth in individual families will have no bearing on the government’s bank balance. Extra demands on the NHS are a thorny subject as the Coalition promised to inject billions of pounds into the health service but no evidence has yet appeared to show that it has. Since this money was promised many years ago, it should have been included in national budgets and should not be a burden now.

The IFS also reports that there is no evidence of a housing bubble in the UK, as a result of Osborne’s ‘Help To Buy’ scheme. This was introduced last year, when Osborne realised that his austerity programme had failed and resorted to a Keynesian ‘pump-priming’ scheme to boost the housing market. Fears that this would lead to a debt-fuelled ‘bubble’ made commenters like myself cautious about the plan.

However, if there are no signs of a debt-fuelled bubble, then we should consider this to be proof that Keynesian economics was always the way forward and austerity has led us up an economic dead-end for the past four years.

This means none of Osborne’s ridiculous cuts were necessary (barring a few to eliminate waste and corruption – but under a Conservative-led regime we have no evidence that these took place and every reason to believe the opposite to be true. Look at the current ‘cronyism’ row over the appointment of Conservative ‘yes’-people to senior quango posts).

It also means the government and the right-wing media have been lying to you for four long years – and will continue doing so in self-justifying stridence for another 14 months to come.

Let them talk.

But don’t ever let them convince you their cuts are necessary.

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