Boris Johnson: He may learn very quickly that he must think before making unsupportable announcements.
All it takes to destroy Boris Johnson’s bluster is a little in-depth questioning – as Emma Barnett proved when she destroyed Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the deputy chair of the Commons public accounts committee on the BBC’s Newsnight yesterday (August 12).
The big question is: Why don’t the mainstream news media do this more often?
The public would be better-informed – so these news outlets would be carrying out their duty.
And, as far as the BBC is concerned, it would look good to Ofcom, which is currently investigating the corporation for breaches of its impartiality rule.
Here’s the video clip; it’s highly enjoyable:
This is all it takes to bust Johnson’s false promises, follow up questions! It really is that easy, not sure why the rest of the BBC, Sky or ITV can’t do this? pic.twitter.com/moIdOHnIW6
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Kudos to Tim Fenton of Zelo Street for this exposure of the Heil’s attitude to celebrities it can’t tame.
I think he’s right to say these rags do their best to hound out of the limelight anybody who is outspokenly opposed to their blinkered right-wing ideology and Gary Lineker, after showing the whole country the attitude we need to have towards refugees, was ripe for a ragging.
Except, of course, that all those involved – except Mr Lineker – have made fools of themselves. Here’s Mr Fenton to explain:
After the Murdoch goons at the Sun were unable to get Lineker sacked for showing compassion towards refugees, that paper and the Mail have been itching for vengeance, and today the Mail’s Sebastian Shakespeare has brought forth a steaming and pungent stack of whoppers to provide it: “How a loved up Gary Lineker and his ex Danielle shocked fellow passengers with their amorous display on-board a British Airways flight”.
There is more: “Lineker, polishing his halo after speaking out to support child refugees in Calais, displayed less than angelic behaviour on a British Airways plane to Italy in the early days of his romance with former wife Danielle Bux … According to fellow passenger Teresa Mahon, who shared the Club Class cabin with the loved-up couple, the former England striker and the Welsh lingerie model were on overly affectionate form during the London to Naples flight”.
This “story” is easy to disprove. We can do this by checking with British Airways what kind of planes they use on their London to Naples service.
Yes, this is alleged to have happened nine years ago, but the type of aircraft being used would have had a similar internal layout. And that layout, Sebastian Shakespeare, does not have a “Club Class cabin”. OH DEAR.
“No left-wing account of this defeat will be complete without a reference to the Tory press (bonus drink for “Murdoch-controlled”) and its supposed inexorable hold over the political psyche of the nation. Funny: the day before the election everyone decided The Sun was a joke and nobody reads newspapers anyway.
“3. CLEVER TORIES
“It will be said that the Tories, in their ruthlessly efficient way, pinned the blame for austerity on Labour and Labour allowed it to stick. Clever Tories. Few will mention that the Tories were, for the most part, a hubristic and directionless shambles, divided amongst themselves, the authors of several howlingly stupid own goals that would certainly have sunk them had they not got so lucky with their opponent.
“5. THE SNP STOLE OUR VICTORY
“It is true that nobody, but nobody, foresaw the SNP tidal wave. But it’s not true that Labour would have won or even done OK without it. Labour saw a net gain of one seat from the Tories in England. One. Seat. One seat, in an election where everything favoured them. One seat, after five years of a shabby and meretricious government making unpopular decisions and a third party that virtually donated its voters to them. An epic failure.”
Firstly, nobody is blaming the media entirely for voters’ insistence on self-destructively supporting the Tories. The media helped hammer the Tory messages home, by amplifying Cameron’s statements and ignoring or vilifying Miliband’s. After a while – and in accordance with Goebbels’ (Cameron is a big fan of Goebbels) claims about The Big Lie – people start believing the claims they see most often.
This is why Conservative claims must be challenged at every opportunity from now on. Whenever a Tory puts forward a policy in the papers, on the Internet and social media or wherever, let’s try to put the questions in front of them that deflate their claims. It has been said that a lie can go around the world before the truth gets out of bed; let’s kill The Big Lie before it can get its shoes on.
Secondly, nobody This Writer knows is saying anything at all about “ruthlessly efficient” Tories. This lot are about as stupid as they come. It’s just a shame – and this was a constant problem for bloggers like Yr Obdt Srvt – that nobody in the Labour leadership saw fit to counter the silly Tory claims with a few ounces of fact. Therefore we must conclude that, not only are the Tories monumental imbeciles; most of Labour were, as well.
This is why the Conservative Party as a whole should be undermined at every opportunity. Whenever they make bold claims about their record – especially against that of the last Labour government – let’s put up a few embarrassing facts to pull the wool out from under them.
Finally, nobody but the SNP and its supporters is making any claim that the SNP’s “tidal wave” – alone – stopped Labour. As This Writer has already mentioned (and the election result was only known yesterday), the Conservative Party used the threat of an SNP surge to put fear into Middle England that “loonie-left” Labour would ally with these crazed Caledonians, to the detriment of the nation. Amazingly, people were gullible enough to believe it.
But you don’t have to take This Writer’s word for it. Here’s Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, from his latest Mainly Macroarticle [italics mine]:
“Why do I say Cameron is lucky? First, largely by chance (but also because other countries had been undertaking fiscal austerity), UK growth in 2014 was the highest among major economies. This statistic was played for all it was worth. Second, although (in reality) modest growth was not enough to raise real incomes, just in the nick of time oil prices fell, so real wages have now begun to rise. Third, playing the game of shutting down part of the economy so that you can boast when it starts up again is a dangerous game, and you need a bit of fortune to get it right. (Of course if there really was no plan, and the recovery was delayed through incompetence, then he is luckier still.)
“The Scottish independence referendum in September last year was close. 45% of Scots voted in September to leave the UK. One of the major push factors was the Conservative-led government. If Scotland had voted for independence in 2014, it would have been a disaster for Cameron: after all, the full title of his party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. That was his first piece of Scottish fortune. The second was that the referendum dealt a huge blow to Labour in Scotland. Labour are far from blameless here, and their support had been gradually declining, but there can be no doubt that the aftermath of the referendum lost them many Scottish seats, and therefore reduced their seat total in the UK.
“Yet that led to a third piece of luck. The SNP tidal wave in Scotland gave him one additional card he could play to his advantage: English nationalism. The wall of sound coming from the right wing press about how the SNP would hold Miliband to ransom was enough to get potential UKIP supporters to vote Conservative in sufficient numbers for him to win the election.”
While I’m not convinced about the UKIP claim (UKIP’s vote share enjoyed the largest increase of any of the parties in Thursday’s election) the rest rings true.
You have already heard an awful lot of hogwash about the reasons for the Conservative Party’s slim win. Don’t believe everything you hear.
It’s long past time that facts and evidence were reintroduced to politics.
Locked out: Cameron will talk himself out of Downing Street if he carries on making stupid mistakes.
It seems the Conservatives can’t make a single claim without having it shot down by the fact-checkers these days. What does that say about David Cameron’s integrity?
Yesterday, standing on the steps of 10 Downing Street (a big no-no during an election campaign), he told the world that if Ed Miliband took up residence there, the cost would be “over £3,000 in higher taxes for every working family to pay for more welfare and out-of-control spending. Debt will rise and jobs will be lost as a result”.
The £3,000 figure was a cumulative increase over parliament and not an annual increase.
The figure also assumed that all of the burden fell on only 17 million working households, and not on the 26.7 million total households in the UK.
If the figure was recalculated on an annualised basis, households would beonly £560 a year worse off.
In a note, the thinktank said: “There is little value in bandying around numbers which suggest either party would increases taxes by an average of £3,000 for each working household. We don’t know what they will do after the election. But neither of the two main parties has said anything to suggest that is what they are planning.”
Incredibly, George Osborne refused to admit that the game was up and kept digging. He declared that the Tory figures “were based on what the Labour party has voted for in parliament. They voted for a £30 billion saving and Ed Miliband has said half of that should come from taxes – that is £15 billion – and then you take the working families and you come up with that number, £3,000, for the next parliament.”
No, thicky! It’s time for another point-by-point rebuttal:
Firstly, Labour did not vote for a £30 billion saving. Osborne keeps trying to put this one over on the voting public but you’d have to be really stupid or a supporter of the SNP, Plaid Cymru or the Greens to believe it or repeat it. Labour voted in favour of the Charter for Budget Responsibility and its aim to balance the budget within a rolling three-year period. There is no mention of £30 billion of savings in that charter.
Secondly, why is Osborne only including working families among those facing a rise in taxation? Everybody pays taxes. Is he trying to demonise people who don’t have a job, either through sickness/disability or because the Conservative drive to kill British industry has deprived them of any opportunities (Tories started dismantling our industries in 1979, in order to create insecurity among the workforce)?
Finally, a £3 billion tax rise, divided among the 26.7 total households in the UK, means a total tax rise of £112.36 per household – but Labour probably won’t hit every household. Raising the highest band of Income Tax back to 50 per cent will raise a huge amount, alone – remember, the richest are twice as rich now as they were in 2009. while working families have around half as much, if that, after living expenses are deducted from their income.
The last point is most relevant: Labour won’t tax everybody; they’ll rebalance taxation to ensure the richest pay their fair share. That’s what the Tories fear; what they are desperate to avoid.
They’re hoping that, by telling you a lie about £3K extra in taxes, they’ll be able to prevent their own supporters (and themselves) from having to pay their way.
Conservatives would much rather make you pay their dues for them.
We really need a new title for a Conservative Health Secretary. He’s not responsible for the health service any more – the Health and Social Care Act 2012 put an end to that – so perhaps ‘Health Cheerleader’ would be a better title?
He has certainly been cheerleading for his new part-privatised NHS over the past few days, with a series of tweets under the banner “The NHS as you know it”. But do any of his claims stack up?
First up, on December 28, was his claim that the number of operations performed on behalf of the NHS was up by “one million”, with the number of cancelled operations stable (that means it hasn’t gone up or down). Here are the graphs:
The trouble is, the number of operations clearly hasn’t increased by a million since the Coalition took power. The graph shows Q2 data only. It clearly shows that operations in that quarter stalled for three years at the same level (after a sustained period of improvement under Labour) and the number currently taking place suggests only a continuation of the trend under the previous government.
Figures for Q2 2014 are only 131,389 higher than Q2 2010. Readers are apparently being asked to assume similar or higher figures in order to make Hunt’s “one million” but with a quarterly figure of roughly 132,000 there’s still nearly half a million operations missing.
Next, on January 4, Hunt claimed his NHS had 850,000 more operations every year than under Labour (we’ve already debunked that one), 13,000 more “clinical staff” and was rated “top in world”. Here’s his graph:
Obviously he’s wrong to claim credit for new clinical staff, if he means doctors – all of them would have had to begin training after May 2010 when the Coalition came into office and it takes longer than four-and-a-half years to train a doctor.
Then, if you look at the small print on the graph, its sources relate to information running up to 2013, when Conservative-led changes to the health service had only just begun to be felt.
The comments include one from Labour Left’s Dr Eoin Clarke asking Hunt to explain why complaints about the NHS have increased by 70 per cent since the Tories took over, while patient satisfaction fell by a record amount (from a previous record high under Labour). No answer was forthcoming.
Next, again on January 4, Hunt claimed: “Cancer tests up 51% compared to Lab & 700,000 more treated 4 cancer this parliament”. He was instantly berated by commenters for using “4” instead of “for” (this writer would take issue with “compared to” as well – it’s “compared with”). Verdict: Extra FAIL.
In terms of the information – here’s the graph:
But Eoin Clarke (again) asked why waiting lists are at a six-year high and Cancer Research UK has said funding has been cut by four per cent, in real terms.
And Chris Manners pointed out, “I wasn’t aware sending lots of people for cancer tests was an end in itself.”
Next – January 4 again:
This one is easily debunked – and was, by commenters on Twitter, as follows:
Thig ar Latha: “And it’s about an hour of training then registering yourself online. My staff have done it.”
This is corroborated by Millsy: “Dementia awareness? It’s an hour lecture… That’s not training.”
Ash Sohoye adds an extra layer: “Most of the dementia training you spk of paid for by charitable giving not NHS.”
Gerry suggests an ulterior motive: “And reason you incentivise GP to diagnose early dementia – to ensure patient sells whatever they own to fund their future care. Diagnosed dementia data will be available to private providers to forward plan services in areas of demand to maximise profit. As for the training – a cosmetic exercise to cover your real dementia objective – making profit from vulnerable patients.”
(Finally, there’s this comment from Ermintrude: “And how much social care funding has been pulled to support ppl with dementia which leads to longer hospital stays?” – which is on a tangent to the discussion but relevant to NHS users in Wales, where the Labour Assembly Government regularly receives flak for its choices. With funding from Westminster decreasing by 10 per cent per year, the Assembly has chosen to prioritise social care, in order to reduce the length of hospital stays. This is a long-term plan, however, meaning Tory shills have taken the opportunity to lay into Labour even further by claiming the strategy has been ineffective. Time will tell.)
Next – on January 4:
Yes, cancer survival rates are improving, according to a trend set by the NHS under the previous Labour government. Where is the ‘boost’ effect of support from this Cancer Drugs Fund?
Perhaps it has yet to appear. But then, Jeremy shouldn’t be mentioning it with these results, should he?
And, as Scott Wainwright points out on Twitter, isn’t Hunt [corruptly] selling off cancer treatment to organisations that donate money to the Conservative Party?
Verdict: Stupid FAIL.
Finally – also on January 4: “£2bn of additional funding for the frontline next year, backed by a strong economy.”
Vox Political has already debunked this but it’s worth going over the facts, starting with the claim about this money being “backed by a strong economy”: None of this funding has anything to do with economic growth and it isn’t even new.
This blog quoted BBC correspondent Louise Stewart, who said £1.3 billion “would be found from savings in other government departments.” Not new money, then. “The remaining £700m will come from the existing Department of Health budget and will be put into front line.” Again, not new money. And none of it has been made possible by any economic growth – the same VP article points out that Income Tax receipts are only just around their pre-crash high.
Verdict: Not only a FAIL; also a LIE.
So that’s “The NHS as you know it” under Jeremy Hunt: Statistics abused, problems ignored, ulterior motives and outright lies.
Let’s end on something a little more factual. These images from the Labour Party were all supported by the line: “The NHS as you know it cannot survive five more years of David Cameron”.
How the Daily Record reported the 4,000-strong demonstration outside the BBC’s Glasgow headquarters, after the social media revealed that Nick Robinson had misrepresented Alex Salmond in a report.
When TV licence-fee payers take to the streets in protest against BBC news coverage, you know there’s something rotten in New Broadcasting House.
The Corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson, is apparently responsible for kicking up the stink – by broadcasting a misleading report about SNP leader Alex Salmond. Robinson claimed Salmond failed to answer a question during a news conference but footage has emerged on the Internet providing no less than seven minutes of proof to the contrary.
Did you notice the word “apparently” in the immediately preceding paragraph? It is there for a very good reason.
There is no doubt that Robinson knowingly misled the viewing public by making a false claim about Alex Salmond. The SNP leader definitely answered his question as this Pride’s Purge article makes clear. It is surprising that, after multiple debunkings of the mainstream media by their social media counterparts, organisations like the BBC still think they can get away with this kind of behaviour.
The operative question is, why did Robinson ignore what Salmond said? Was it not what he wanted to hear? Was the reference to information that should not have been divulged to the BBC too sensitive for the Corporation to allow onto our screens? Or was there a more deep-seated political agenda?
Frequent Vox Political commenter Jeffrey Davies reckons that Robinson’s report is a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act 1968.
In his comment, he says he bought his licence in the belief that the BBC would follow its Charter and Agreement (Section 3: Accuracy, Principles) commits it to fair, unbiased coverage:
“The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences. We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content.”
Regarding the Salmond incident, he said it breaches Article 44 of the BBC Trust Charter Agreement, which states: “(1) The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output.”
He is right, and it is right that Robinson should pay for what he has tried to do.
But what about Fran Unsworth, deputy director of BBC news and current affairs; Mary Hockaday, head of newsroom; and Gavin Allen, news editor, BBC News? According to Private Eye (issue 1369, 27 June – 10 July 2014, p12), “all vie for control of the [New Broadcasting House] newsroom and the historic task of ‘driving the news agenda’.” If that is correct, which of them carries the responsibility for this cock-up?
Come to that, what about Keith Blackmore, managing editor of news and current affairs; Jonathan Munro, head of newsgathering; and their boss James Harding, the director of news? Did they have a hand in this balls-up?
Or did the rot emanate from the new chair of the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead – who only took up her position last Tuesday (September 9)? What’s her involvement in this cock-and-ball story?
Why mention these directorial types when a news report is the responsibility of the person making it? Simple.
Most – if not all – of these distinguished personnel are also distinguished Conservatives, and it is known that the Conservative Party supports the ‘No’ camp in the referendum campaign.
Robinson is also a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, as the following (again from Pride’s Purge) makes clear:
Therefore we must ask whether any or all of them agreed to ‘slant’ BBC reporting in favour of the ‘No’ camp in an effort to influence voters on behalf of their Tory masters.
We should demand their suspension while an impartial investigation takes place – followed by their resignation if they are found to have any responsibility in this matter.
Do you think that is overstating the matter?
Then perhaps some other matters should also be taken into consideration, including the privatisation of the National Health Service, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the abuse of sick and disabled people by the Department for Work and Pensions – all of which are considered to have enjoyed either biased reporting or have been ignored altogether by lovable, licence-fee-funded Auntie.
38Degrees has launched a petition calling for an independent inquiry into BBC bias regarding the Scottish referendum campaign. To sign, visit this site.
The Vox Political Facebook page has become a lively place over the last couple of days – mainly because of the presence of misinformed people purveying hand-me-down myths about Labour Party policies, accompanied by the odd troll who wants to cause mischief by supporting those beliefs, even though they know them to be false.
This makes it a frustrating place for Yr Obdt Srvt, who has had to respond to every other comment with a rehash of explanations provided to other people on other comment threads. It’s like trying to have a conversation in which you have to repeat yourself after every couple of sentences because you’re talking to people who keep coming out with the same – disproved – claims.
Clearly it is time to provide these people with a common point of reference, to which they may refer – it won’t shut up the trolls but at least they’ll look stupid if they’ve been given an answer and still carry on.
So! Let’s have a look at some of these claims.
1. “Labour voted to support the Bedroom Tax and it is hypocritical of them to oppose it now.”
Labour never – categorically NEVER – voted for the Bedroom Tax.
The entire Parliamentary Labour Party (barring possibly any who were ill or had some other reasonable excuse not to be present) voted against the Welfare Reform Act (which contains Bedroom Tax legislation) when it was pushed through Parliament in February 2012. Look up Hansard debates, February 21, where MPs’ speeches, and the way they voted, are reported verbatim.
Since then, the party’s campaigning against the Bedroom Tax has been constant.
If you have been making this claim, you stand corrected.
Do not come to this blog or the Vox Political Facebook page repeating that claim again.
In addition, you should now take responsibility for preventing other people from spreading that falsehood. If you spot anyone doing so, you just make sure they know the facts – along with everyone they’ve been misinforming.
2. “Labour has committed itself to following Coalition spending plans and is therefore no different from the Conservatives.”
The Tory spending limits myth is another one that has to be challenged at every turn because a lot of people misunderstand it.
Firstly, just because Labour has committed itself to keeping the same limit on its spending as the Tories, for one year only, does not mean that Labour will spend the money in exactly the same way!
Too many people make this assumption when there is absolutely no basis for it in fact – including some newspapers, it is sad to report. They got it wrong.
Secondly, government spending for the first year is tied down, to a certain extent, by commitments made by the previous administration. Once those are out of the way, it leaves the board clear for the new government to be as bold as it wants.
“First, the party’s pledge to match the coalition’s spending totals in 2015/16 does not mean that it has to spend each budget in the same way. In education, for instance, it could devote less funding to free schools and more to schools in areas where demand is greatest.
“Second, the commitment to match planned government spending only applies to the first year of the next parliament: the party is free to outspend the coalition after that and to make greater use of tax rises to reduce borrowing.
“Third, while promising to eliminate the current account deficit, Labour (unlike the Tories) has not pledged to eradicate the total deficit, leaving room to borrow to fund capital projects such as housing and transport infrastructure (provided that the rate of spending growth is slower than the growth in GDP it will still be able to meet its promise to reduce the national debt).”
3. “Ed Miliband is a closet Tory because he has said he wants to govern like Margaret Thatcher.”
Some people seem determined to shoehorn this statement into a belief that Miliband was confessing that he is a Conservative.
He was talking about Margaret Thatcher’s style of leadership, not her political beliefs – Thatcher led from the front, telling her cabinet what she wanted done and expecting them to do it. In contrast, for example, Johon Major was a consensus leader who discussed big decisions with the other members of his cabinet in order to find out their opinions before making a decision.
Now, you might have an opinion on which of those styles is the best, but you won’t even be able to start forming a judgement if you’re unable to recognise what it really is!
4. “We cannot trust New Labour, the party of Tony Blair and his brand of neoliberalism.”
New Labour ended in 2010.
Go to a search engine and type in ‘Ed Miliband new labour dead’ or something similar. The relevant articles are dated around September 26. New Labour was a neoliberal mistake.
New Labour made too many errors – it was a silly experiment to take Labour down the same neoliberal cul-de-sac as Thatcherite Tories. This is why the current leadership has turned its back on the whole project.
Yr Obdt Srvt joined Labour to help turn the party back into what it should be. Yes, there are still New Labour hangers-on, but Vox Political does its bit to expose them for what they are on the blog (as you’ll know, if you’re a regular reader).
We’re not all Red Tory propagandists, you know!
5. “Labour has not opposed any of the Coalition cuts to services or social security. Labour has supported them.”
This misconception seems to have grown from the fact that the Coalition has been able to push through all of the changes it wanted, no matter how damaging – and arises from a misunderstanding of the way Parliament works.
While the Coalition has a majority, it doesn’t matter what Labour does in Parliament – the Coalition will always win the vote.
In fact, Labour has opposed every single cut inflicted on the UK by the Coalition, except in one case where the party abstained in order to win concessions.
Labour MPs and activists have campaigned ceaselessly against the cuts that have led to many thousands of deaths, speaking out in the Commons Chamber, in newspapers, at demonstrations, rallies and public events. They have made it perfectly clear that they intend to hold the Coalition to account.
Claims that Labour “sat idle” for the last four years are dangerous nonsense as some people may believe them without checking the facts for themselves.
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