Tag Archives: cut

Tories say they have to cut aid to Yemen because of Covid crisis financial pressure. But there isn’t any!

A destroyed school in Yemen in 2017 – three years after the conflict there began – where a Saudi-led coalition has been accused of killing thousands of civilians.

The Johnson government has cut aid to war-torn Yemen by as much as 60 per cent, claiming it cannot afford the cost because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the entire cost of government measures to deal with Covid-19 has been paid already, with money the government created specifically for that purpose. There is no financial pressure at all.

Meanwhile, sales of weapons – to the Saudi-led coalition that has been accused of killing many thousands of Yemeni civilians in the seven years since the conflict began in 2014 – continue unabated.

So a decision to cut life-saving aid, quoting

 “recent global challenges”

that have created

“a difficult financial context for us all”

is a decision based on a lie. No wonder 101 charities have condemned it.

Source: Yemen conflict: UK cuts aid citing financial pressure from Covid – BBC News

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‘Compassionate Conservatism’: Covid deaths to cut state pension costs, says BBC

This BBC story could explain much about the Corporation’s wholehearted support for Rishi Sunak, even though he’s utterly vile.

The Beeb presents as a good news story the deaths of so many over-65s that the cost of paying pensions is set to plummet by £1.5 billion by 2022.

And wait! because there’s even more Good News!

The government will also receive an extra £0.9bn from inheritance tax, partly due to Covid-related deaths.

Every cloud has a silver lining, eh? As in thirty pieces of silver, if you recognise the reference.

Here’s an interesting slip, though:

More than 144,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have occurred in the UK since the start of the pandemic, figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show.

That’s 21,000 more than the official figure of 123,000 at the time of writing.

I think somebody’s been lying again – don’t you?

Source: Budget 2021: Covid deaths set to cut state pension costs – BBC News

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The Budget-related press interview you WON’T be hearing today

Rishi Sunak: he’s about to claim we need cuts to pay for the Covid-19 pandemic but that will just stop money from flowing through the economy, making it impossible. And in any case, it is unnecessary as he has already paid for it!

As the Tories continue to pretend we have to pay the cost of Covid-19 twice, it’s clear we’re going to hear a lot of double-talk in today’s (March 3) Budget speech.

Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has released a video of the kind of media interview he’d like to hear, with a politician who doesn’t mind telling the facts as they are, rather than as Rishi Sunak would like to pretend.

Here it is:

It won’t happen because too many people are supporting the lie – for reasons already mentioned on This Site and elsewhere.

But it needs to be said – and you need to hear it before Sunak pumps his nonsense into all our heads.

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Worried about Amazon deforestation? Look to your own urban street trees too

Deforestation: 5,000 trees were chopped in Sheffield after street mainenance was taken over by a private contractor. The vandalism resulted in international headlines and worldwide condemnation.

Sheffield Council (famously) is likely to be one of many UK local authorities to have made entirely the wrong decision by felling street trees in our cities.

And in the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, the blunder is becoming increasingly more self-evident:

As the UK first entered lockdown in spring 2020… many people spent more time on their local streets and in parks. Online tree app Tree Talk saw a 50-fold increase in users as people fell in love with their local “ .”

And rightly so:

The wood of street trees stores carbon, while their roots and crowns support wildlife and slow rainfall, reducing urban flooding. Transpiration and shade from their canopies reduces temperatures in heatwaves, while pollution-trapping leaves lower the prevalence of asthma.

If these ecosystem services weren’t enough, having trees on our streets reduces crime rates and improves mental health and wellbeing. One mature street tree can have a net ecosystem service value of thousands of pounds.

Sadly, it seems protecting our eco-system comes with a slight maintenance cost that has become too much for some councils (probably due to cash starvation by central – Conservative – government).

That’s why – with no interest in the environment, health or crime – councils across the country have been chopping down trees like there’s no tomorrow (which is ironic when you consider that their actions are helping to ensure that there won’t be).

After the Sheffield debacle, in which 5,000 trees were felled by a private contractor in order to make street maintenance cheaper – but the resulting outcry led to international news headlines, councils have become more circumspect.

Nowadays they tend to sing from a hymn-sheet that declares they will plant several new trees for every old one that is felled. This is no justification:

Just as any child would understand they were being ripped off if given a 2p piece and a 1p piece to replace a pound coin, removing large species trees and replacing them with small ones results in a net loss of ecosystem services.

Size really matters with trees. The annual net ecological benefit of planting a large species tree is 92% greater than planting a small one. Mature street trees do everything from having a positive effect on infant birth weight in lower socio-economic demographics, to increasing resilience to major life events among people who live within sight of them. Consumers spend more on streets that are lined with large trees.

So if your local authority decides to start felling large, mature street trees – get organised and tell your councillors:

You won’t be fooled.

You won’t be fobbed off with a promise of more planting when saplings have only a fraction of the benefit of mature trees.

And you won’t tolerate the fall in public health – and the rise in crime – that your council intends to create.

Source: Why keeping one mature street tree is far better for humans and nature than planting lots of new ones

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Cut court jury size to clear Covid backlog, says Labour in descent to dribbling insanity

Blinding justice: cut jury sizes to seven and save time, says Labour’s David Lammy. Maybe it would, but it would almost certainly prejudice the result of difficult cases.

There is a reason we have 12 people in court juries and the idea of changing that number just to get through court cases faster is an offence to justice.

Labour’s shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, wants to resurrect so-called “wartime juries” of seven rather than 12 members, to speed up the process.

And the only casualty will be justice.

Why not just announce that anybody accused of a crime will be automatically declared guilty? That would save time. And that’s the intention here, right?

“Victims of rape, murder, domestic abuse, robbery and assault are facing delays of up to four years because of the government’s failure to act,” Mr Lammy said.

Right. And so are people who have been wrongly accused of those crimes.

Waiting for justice can be extremely stressful. Trust me – I know!

But it is better to let the wheels of justice grind slow and smooth than to risk even the possibility of injustice.

This plan would open the door to injustice, just to save a bit of time.

So I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I actually agree with the Tories that there should be no tinkering with the system at this time.

The justice system already gets enough flak for failing the public. There’s no justification for laying it open to even more.

Source: Coronavirus: Cut jury size to clear courts backlog – Labour – BBC News

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Is Boris Johnson really facing a backbench revolt over Universal Credit cut – or is it a smokescreen?

Manipulative? Is Boris Johnson trying to distract us again with a false threat to take away the £20 Covid uplift in Universal Credit?

Is it just another distraction?

According to The Independent, Boris Johnson is facing a possible rebellion from backbench Tories over a plan to end a £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit.

The boost was granted to help people on the benefit cope during the Covid-19 crisis.

So doesn’t it seem strange that Johnson is now suggesting it should be withdrawn, before the crisis is over?

The story states that Johnson has made repeated U-turns over everything from free school meals to the immigration health surcharge, when faced with a backbench revolt.

Some of us see this as a sign of weakness but it is possible that diehard Tories think it indicates a huge streak of generosity – so a last-minute policy reversal could be exactly what Johnson needs to boost his sagging reputation.

To This Writer, there seems little reason for the plan to cut the payment at the end of March, when the current English lockdown is set to end – although experts say Covid-related restrictions are likely to continue for some time afterwards.

The only sense I can make of it is if it has been set up to give Johnson an opportunity to seem magnanimous.

Cynical. The question is, is he the cynic or am I?

And – again – a huge distraction for the public.

But from what?

A Tory revolt is threatening Boris Johnson with defeat over his controversial plans to cut up to £1,000 a year from universal credit payments.

The 50-strong Northern Research Group (NRG) of MPs is calling for the continuation “until lockdown is lifted” of the emergency increase that was brought in to help poorer families cope during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The support for maintaining the payments beyond March comes just days before Labour stages a Commons vote – putting pressure on the prime minister to rethink the cut.

It would hit 6 million families and push 200,000 more children below the breadline, the Child Poverty Action Group is warning.

Source: Tory revolt threatens Boris Johnson with defeat over £1,000 a year cut to universal credit | The Independent

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Johnson says he’s not planning to scrap workers’ rights. Do you believe him?

Boris Johnson has insisted he is not planning a post-Brexit bonfire of UK workers’ rights, after the Financial Times reported on a meeting between him and business chiefs.

The report states that worker protections the Tories repeatedly promised to protect after the UK left the EU will be “ripped up”.

The paper claims the Tories are planning laws to slash holiday pay entitlements, bin rest breaks, and allow bosses to force you to work longer hours, among others.

Analysis by Evolve Politics states that

The secretive plans are also predicted to benefit wealthy bosses to the tune of billions whilst severely impacting the take-home pay of many ordinary workers.

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband, on Twitter, got straight to the point:

What a relief to see that someone on Labour’s front bench seems to remember what his job is supposed to be. But what a shame that it comes after Miliband voted in favour of the Brexit deal that makes the alleged Tory plans possible.

Labour owns Brexit as much as the Tories do – with the exception of those who defied Keir Starmer’s whip and voted against it.

Johnson has denied everything – as might be expected.

According to the BBC,

A government spokesperson said: “We have absolutely no intention of lowering the standards of workers’ rights.

“The UK has one of the best workers’ rights records in the world, and it is well known that the UK goes further than the EU in many areas.

“Leaving the EU allows us to continue to be a standard setter and protect and enhance UK workers’ rights.”

But the report adds:

When the UK left the EU it retained many of its laws, but it is now able to change them.

In the 2019 Queen’s Speech outlining the government’s agenda for the coming parliamentary session, changes in employment law were promised.

A new Employment Bill is expected to be published in 2021.

It goes on to say that the Bill is expected to cover issues including the distribution of tips.

Considering the Johnson government’s track record, the best advice This Writer can give is that of Peter Stefanovic in the tweet below:

Source: Brexit: No plans to dilute workers’ rights, minister says – BBC News

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Evil Priti Patel rejoices as she ends freedom of movement for 66 million UK citizens

Happy hater: Priti Patel’s new law would have deported her own parents. The big question is: would she care?

“Dumpy she-Hitler” Priti Patel has publicly celebrated ending a fundamental freedom for every citizen of the United Kingdom.

Her Immigration Bill has just passed into law, meaning that those of you living in the UK will find it just that little bit harder to leave the country in the future – especially if we’re going to the European Union.

As for immigrating out of the burnt-out wheelie bin Patel and her fellow Tories have made of the country – forget it!

She didn’t mention that in her publicity tweet, though.

No – like the true-blue fake she is, she emphasized the aspect that would appeal to the Brexiters who voted for her cruelty…

… little knowing that it affects them as much as it does people from other countries.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that Patel’s own parents would not have been allowed into the UK under the laws that she has introduced – that’s the level of hypocrisy she exemplifies:

Still, it seems unlikely her parents will be upset by their daughter’s new law – father Sushil Patel ran for election to a council as a representative of UKIP, meaning that – in her family – she’s probably the nice one.

Vilification of this hateful spite queen has been running through Twitter since she made her announcement – but it seems she is protected by a thick shield composed entirely of bigotry, from which the condemnation will rebound like water off a snake’s skin.

We can enjoy it, though:

How ironic that this has come on a day when supporters of Donald Trump have been announcing that they plan to quit the United States and come to the UK.

They’ll get cold comfort here: all they’ll find is Priti Patel waiting to deport them.

They’ll probably end up on Ascension Island or St Helena.

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Popular support for UK’s biggest union as it cuts funding to Labour because Starmer is ‘not listening’

Len McCluskey: as long ago as March 2018, he said if Labour won’t support left-wing policies, it won’t have left-wing funds.

Len McCluskey is providing the leadership the Labour movement badly needs, and right-thinking people across the UK know it.

Late on October 6, the BBC’s Newsnight told us the Unite union general secretary had announced a partial disaffiliation from the Labour Party because new leader Keir Starmer is “just not listening” to the Labour movement.

One of the most contentious issues recently was Starmer’s decision to pay £600,000 to so-called whistleblowers who contributed to a Panorama documentary about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

After Labour denied their story, they threatened to sue the party for defamation. Legal advice was that Labour would win – but Starmer decided to pay up anyway.

Now, United has disaffiliated 50,000 of its members, meaning its subsidy to Labour will drop by one-tenth – around £700,000.

This Writer thinks the close correlation between this sum and the amount paid to the “whistleblowers” is no coincidence. Unite – and McCluskey – are saying that if Starmer has so much cash he can afford to blow it on appeasement, he can afford to do without some.

The cash that has been freed will go to left-wing grassroots organisations – a shrewd move if it leads to wider understanding of alternatives to the neoliberal policies of Boris Johnson (and Starmer himself).

And the decision has been met with widespread support from the general public. Here’s This Site’s friend, Cornish Damo (be warned that he doesn’t hold back and you may find some of his language too strong):

We need an opposition, not an “appeasition”. Yes indeed!

Others have also leapt up to voice their support for Unite – and their disgust with Starmer on this and other issues:

AFTERTHOUGHT: Sadly, looking at the social media, it seems the Twitter trolls are trying to take over the discussion with support for Starmer and insults for McCluskey.

Perhaps Unite and all the other trade unions who co-formed Labour in the first place should just withdraw all their funding now, as these so-called members and representatives clearly neither need nor want it.

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Tories want to hire a new ‘head of pandemic preparedness’ – after they axed the old systems for doing that

Head of Pandemic Un-preparedness: Boris Johnson’s reaction to Covid-19 was so poor that he actually caught the disease himself and then sent us all letters, claiming to provide advice on how not to do the same.

The Tories have been accused of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, after they advertised for a new ‘head of pandemic preparedness’ six months into the Covid crisis.

But the facts are actually worse than that.

The idea is to pay someone £61,000 a year to “learn the lessons” (how many times have we heard that?) from the crisis and ensure the UK is properly prepared for any similar situation in the future.

And yes, it is too late for all that.

But the reason it’s too late is that the Tories spent the last 10 years dismantling the UK’s system of preparation for any pandemic disease.

I wrote about this back in March so perhaps people have forgotten. Here’s the gist:

The UK government has strategies for dealing with events like this. The Cabinet Office keeps a National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies which it must keep up-to-date – and every single copy of this document ever made lists “pandemic flu” as the most probable and devastating threat to the UK.

This means the government has devised strategies to deal with such a threat. The problem is, they are all out of date.

Oldest of them all is the guide to dealing with the fatalities of the pandemic,  last published in 2008. This has never been updated since the Conservatives took over responsibility for it.

The last strategy written specifically to deal with pandemic flu was published in 2011 – the same year David Cameron’s Conservative-led Coalition government closed the dedicated government Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Team based in the Department of Health, which was tasked with tackling this type of crisis.

It may explain much that the government’s UK Pandemic Influenza Communications Strategy, the crucial document for getting the right messages across to the public, was written in 2012 and is now wildly inaccurate in its assumptions about how and where people get their information.

In October 2016, David Cameron’s now wholly-Conservative government carried out an exercise to estimate the impact of a hypothetical influenza pandemic on the United Kingdom. Exercise Cygnus showed that such a pandemic would cause the country’s health system to collapse, due to a lack of resources.

The Chief Medical Officer of the time said that a lack of medical ventilators was a serious problem that should be rectified, but in 2017 this advice was ignored by the Department of Health under Jeremy Hunt – because it would cost too much. The government was committed to austerity policies, remember.

So you see, we used to have whole teams dedicated to ensuring that the UK could weather a pandemic without serious harm to the population.

And the Tories got rid of the lot.

And now they want to replace them with a single person.

So let’s float a wild theory.

Is it possible that the Tories knew a pandemic like Covid-19 could cause huge numbers of unnecessary deaths, and decided to allow it to happen?

I’ll answer that for you: we know it is because it is exactly what Boris Johnson advocated on live television in early March.

Is it possible that all their decisions since then have been dedicated to this end, rather than towards saving people’s lives, and this is why every single strategy they have started has been a dismal failure?

And, in line with this thinking…

Is it possible that this position will be nothing more than a “figurehead” role, to be quietly dissolved after a few years so we can all fall victim to the next viral disaster?

Source: Government to hire ‘Head of Pandemic Preparedness’ six months into Covid-19 crisis – Mirror Online

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