Tag Archives: disaster

Keir Starmer’s Hillsborough homage highlights his own hypocrisy

Keir Starmer: the compressed lips suggest that when this image was taken, he had said something he wished he had not. Is that how he feels about having written for The Sun, in a direct insult to victims of the Hillsborough disaster and the people of Liverpool generally.

Labour leader Keir Starmer tried to pay homage to those who died, on the 34th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster – but succeeded only in highlighting his own hypocrisy.

Critics of the hard-right-wing Labour leader have spoken up to remind us that Starmer has written articles in The Sun – the (right-wing) news-rag that falsely accused Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989.

The Hillsborough Disaster was a fatal human crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, hosted at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.

The police service attempted to hide the fact that its failures caused 96 deaths and 766 injuries – the worst disaster in UK sporting history – by trying to blame it on the fans who were injured and died, saying those people caused the tragedy by being drunk and misbehaving.

West Midlands was the force appointed to investigate the disaster, but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Not only that, though: the prime minister of the day, the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, refused to release information that made the police look bad.

And The Sun, a newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, published a story headlined The Truth that was nothing but a pack of lies, supporting the fantasy created by the police.

This Site published the facts more than a decade ago.

Starmer himself spoke up about the hurt caused to the people of Liverpool by The Sun when he was campaigning for election as Labour leader in 2020. He said he would not be giving interviews to the paper during his campaign.

Sadly, as soon as he had been elected, that promise ended and he has written for The Sun since, an act that people in Liverpool consider a bitter insult:

Starmer seems to be trying to play on both sides of the Hillsborough argument – claiming to sympathise with the families of the dead and survivors of the disaster while writing for the rag that lied about them.

But memories are long in Liverpool.

Let us hope he finds that out in the local elections next month – and in the general election next year if he stubbornly refuses to learn his lesson.


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Suella Braverman shouldn’t play politics after telling others not to

After being asked whether the survivors of a recent Channel crossing disaster would be welcome in the UK because they came here from a “safe” country, Home Secretary Suella Braverman demanded that her colleagues should not play “politics” over such matters.

She then went on to do exactly that.

Braverman couldn’t say these people are not welcome because others have died – as a result of the fact that the UK has closed all safe routes to the UK in order to keep racists and bigots voting Tory.

Hear it for yourself:

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Government doubles down over economic plan while Truss and Kwarteng go into hiding

Now you see them: but after their disastrous ‘fiscal event’, politics-watchers are now being forced to play a new game. You might call it ‘Where’s Lizzie?’, or ‘Where’s Kwasi?’

What a stunning headline to write.

The Tory government is sticking by its tax-cuts-for-the-rich, make-the-poor-pay plan, even after the Bank of England had to step in with a plan to buy bonds in order to save the economy from collapsing altogether, after Kwasi Kwarteng’s worst-budget-ever last Friday (September 23).

Government departments are already being asked to find spending cuts, though – it’s looking bad for your NHS (which, by the way, is looking like an extremely enticing purchase for US investors now the Pound has plummeted to parity-or-below with the Dollar).

Meanwhile Liz Truss hasn’t been seen for nearly a week; her only communication being to congratulate a fascist on an election victory in Italy.

And Kwasi Kwarteng has similarly dropped off the map; apart from an excruciating non-response when asked how he’d solve the problems he created last Friday, he appears to be cowering in his office, waiting for the P45 to slide under the door.

Conservative MPs – along with the rest of us – have picked up on the fact that Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor and Liz Truss’s rival in the leadership contest on which the Tories decided to waste the summer rather than do any actual work, predicted this chaos.

He said, “Borrowing your way out of inflation isn’t a plan – it’s a fairy tale.”

It is against this backdrop that Kwarteng will have to give a speech to the Conservative Party Conference on Monday.

Well, his tenure as Chancellor looks like becoming one of the shortest in history, so he might as well make the shortest-ever speech.

“I resign” comprises only two words.

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Police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’. What about the Tories – and Murdoch?

The disgrace – no, the word ‘disgrace’ isn’t strong enough: this is the Sun story that mentally scarred survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and the families of those who died. It wasn’t ‘The Truth’ at all; it was a pack of lies.

More than five years after a jury ruled that 96 people were killed unlawfully in the Hillsborough disaster – and that their behaviour did not contribute to the situation – police forces have agreed to pay compensation to more than 600 people for mental distress caused by the attempted cover-up.

I have two questions.

Firstly: why did it take so long for South Yorkshire and West Midlands police to agree to pay up?

Secondly: Why aren’t the Conservative Party and Rupert Murdoch’s News International paying compensation, too?

Let’s go into the circumstances:

We all know that the Hillsborough Disaster was a fatal human crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, hosted at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.

It happened due to gross negligence by match commander David Duckenfield of South Yorkshire Police.

The police service then attempted to hide the fact that its failures caused 96 deaths and 766 injuries – the worst disaster in UK sporting history – by trying to blame it on the fans who were injured and died, saying those people caused the tragedy by being drunk and misbehaving.

West Midlands was the force appointed to investigate the disaster, but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Not only that, though: the prime minister of the day, the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, refused to release information that made the police look bad.

And The Sun, a newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, published a story headlined The Truth that was nothing but a pack of lies, supporting the fantasy created by the police.

This Writer believes a strong argument could be made that the newspaper story – which led to The Sun being boycotted in Liverpool ever since – caused more distress, more anguish, to survivors, and to relatives and friends of the deceased, than the police cover-up on which it was based (although I know it could not have been written if the police and the Tory prime minister had not lied in the first place).

Civil claims for compensation due to malfeasance in public office by the two police forces were submitted in 2015, during inquests into the reasons the 96 died.

The claimants said the lies had caused them to suffer trauma and psychiatric damage, and the compensation is to cover not only those injuries but also the cost of treatment and counselling.

Those claims were made nearly six years ago and the payments haven’t been made yet (at the time of writing). So I repeat: why not?

And how much are these people getting, to make one of the claimants describe the payout as “insulting” in The Guardian‘s news article about it?

The behaviour of the police was shocking, and undermines public faith in the reliability of our law enforcement officers across the UK – not just in the forces concerned.

But – as mentioned above – they weren’t the only organisations caught lying; they weren’t the only people who deliberately caused further distress over Hillsborough.

Margaret Thatcher withheld information – which was as bad as lying because it presented a false impression that the police were blameless.

She was able to do so because she was prime minister at the time – and she was prime minister because she was leader of the Conservative Party that had formed the then-current government.

She died in 2013 but it seems perfectly reasonable to hold the Tories responsible for putting her in a position where she could distort the facts.  Why has the Conservative Party avoided compensating these people?

And that Sun headline has gone down in the history of journalistic infamy. The disgust of the city of Liverpool – in perpetuity – is not enough. Why has News International not offered compensation as well?

All three of these organisations should have offered payouts voluntarily, considering the enormity of the harm they have done, but they didn’t.

The police are only paying up because they were forced to.

Perhaps that aspect of this tragedy is the most damning of all.

Source: South Yorkshire and West Midlands police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’ | Hillsborough disaster | The Guardian

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With Labour set to lose three-fifths of its vote, will Jess Phillips still be smiling tomorrow?

What’s so funny? Jess Phillips was all smiles when Jeremy Corbyn suffered his huge defeat in 2019. Will she be as amused if Keir Starmer suffers a worse one in 2021?

Keir Starmer has changed his tune.

Only days ago, he said he had a “mountain to climb” and would continue doing that after today’s local election. Now he is saying he will “carry the can” if the result goes badly.

But will he?

Polling suggests that Labour is heading for its worst local election result in decades – equivalent to that suffered by previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the general election in 2019.

The Guardian reported that

Labour’s canvassing in Hartlepool suggested only 40% of the party’s previous supporters had pledged to vote for its candidate, Paul Williams

and Starmer will have to take responsibility if Williams loses; the candidate was practically parachuted in after Labour’s head office interfered with the selection process in a return to the bad old days of Tony Blair’s New Labour.

A particular problem across the board is StarmerLabour’s lack of any coherent policy after he abandoned the “continuity Corbyn” pledges he made to get elected as party leader and opted to be what Tony Benn once described as a “weathercock” politicians.

It means rather than choosing to take Labour in a well-defined direction, he has chosen to adopt whatever seems popular at the moment in a bid to fool voters into thinking he’s on their side.

That tactic seems to have failed.

Labour’s policy on the doorstep seems to have been to appeal to anti-Tory sentiment – but the party seems to have done this by making itself a caricature of northern working-class voters: “beer, fish and chips and flags,” as one left-wing MP told the Graun.

This has caused offence in several ways:

And behind it all is resentment at the way right-wing Labour MPs, who are now in charge of the party, stabbed Corbyn’s Labour leadership in the back in order to ensure that big defeat in 2019 – only to make matters worse.

At the time of writing, Jess Phillips is trending on Twitter. Here is the reason in two tweets:

That kind of betrayal is not something a political party can easily leapfrog.

Now it seems party members are planning to demand Starmer’s resignation if the party suffers major losses – including in Hartlepool.

He has said he’ll “carry the can” – but even in that, it seems he may just mean he’ll kick it down the road.

Already we are hearing that he has voiced concern that the next general election could be in 2023, not the following year, and that he is trying to suggest that this would be too soon for Labour to change direction if a new leader was elected between now and then.

If this is true, then he is deliberately avoiding the point – that it is better to have a new leader with a chance to win than an old one who will definitely lose. That is, after all, the reason he and his right-wingers forced Corbyn out.

Well, the one they presented to the public, anyway.

The saddest part of this whole sorry StarmerLabour saga is that he has made the Conservatives more popular – surely the cardinal sin of any Labour leader.

In Hartlepool, it is being suggested that half of the electorate will support the Tory candidate – a shocking claim in a Labour-held seat.

And it’s one that is made even worse when one considers that abominable record of the current Tory government under Boris Johnson:

His Covid-19 policies led to the deaths of 150,000 people – most of these could have been prevented if he had locked down earlier and more effectively.

He has mired his government in allegations of cronyist corruption.

And his Brexit – the way he pulled the UK out of the European Union – may actually lead to a shooting war with France over fishing rights near the Channel Islands; a war in which the UK, as the side causing the conflict, would be seen as the villain.

Johnson must be delighted that Starmer is leading Labour towards death in a ditch. It has taken all the heat away from his own failings.

And that is why – barring miracles – Starmer will have to go.

Source: Starmer promises to ‘carry the can’ as Labour braces for challenging elections | Keir Starmer | The Guardian

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Did ‘activist lawyers’ tell Home Office its Windrush compensation scheme was a disaster, too?

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

How unfortunate for the Home Office that it should fall foul of the lawyers twice in one day.

Or is it perhaps a sign of the Johnson government’s disregard for the law?

The Tory government’s much-maligned Windrush Compensation Scheme has been trashed by – one would expect – activist lawyers from no fewer than nine separate firms.

They say it is failing to provide access to justice – a claim that can only have gained validity after it was revealed that the HO tried to rush-deport 23 people illegally, because it had not allowed them their right to appeal.

The – activist – lawyers also said that while the Windrush scandal traumatised its victims, the compensation scheme is only worsening the trauma.

The HO has already confirmed that at least five people who applied for compensation died before receiving it.

Lawyers say they have experienced significant delays and difficulties filing claims for clients who were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants and lost their jobs, housing or pensions as a result.

The letter says many applications appear to be “appear to be lost in a kind of bureaucratic limbo”, with some people forced to wait more than a year for decisions.

Look at this:

The decision to put the Home Office in charge of processing of claims was particularly problematic, they write, given the criticisms of the department made in Wendy Williams’ official inquiry into the scandal. Williams’ report identified a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” within the Home Office and “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”.

And now let’s all remember that the Home Office is carrying out its own inquiry into the death of refugee Mercy Baguma. What chance does justice have in a “culture of disbelief and carelessness” with “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race”?

Coincidentally (or is it?) yesterday HO permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft announced:

Perhaps inevitably, this was one of the responses:

Source: Windrush payout scheme not fit for purpose, say lawyers | Windrush scandal | The Guardian

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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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Bungling Starmer is stumbling through one race-related fiasco after another

Dithering and indecisive: and we were told he would sweep Labour back into power!

Keir Starmer is now in serious trouble.

His tone-deaf description of Black Lives Matter as a “moment” – along with a series of other race-related mishaps – has upset a multitude of voters – not just black or from ethnic minorities but everybody – and heralded a mass exodus that he seems ill-equipped to stem.

And the mass media are full of stories about it.

Here‘s black, working-class woman – and now-former Labour member – Evie Muir in Metro:

When Starmer took over this year, I was open to the change in leadership. His voting record on social issues mirrored my values and I was hopeful that this would be reflected in his actions moving forward.

But over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself distancing from the Labour Party at an evolving pace.

Starmer … positioned himself as a leader who will not be exploring [racism] for the party’s constituents. He is not only gatekeeping a problematic institution, but also failing to recognise the nuances within the relationship between the police and Black communities in the UK.

His comments are neglectful of the most recent examples of incompetency in the sector, including the circumstances around 12-year-old Shukri Yahye-Abdi’s death by drowning, and the police officers who just weeks ago allegedly took selfies with Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, two murdered Black women.

After the statement [on Black Lives Matter] went viral, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, notorious for his unapologetic bigotry, right wing rhetoric and anti-multiculturalism stance, tweeted that he ‘heartily agrees’ with Starmer’s condemnation of the BLM organisation.

I immediately cancelled my Labour Party membership.

I am not the only one to abandon Labour. My social media feeds, WhatsApp groups and DMs sprung to life with likeminded friends telling me they feel equally betrayed.

Questioning the validity of the only organisation that advocates for Black people, questions the validity of all Black people.

If the Labour Party is not prepared to listen to the needs of Black people, unapologetically support these and advocate for our rights to be heard, then the party is no longer a safe place for us. You are either with us or you are against us, there is no room for debating our humanity, excusing our oppressors or talking over us. This only puts us in further danger.

Starmer’s statement othered us so completely that I no longer feel like we have a home in the party, and as an avid and loyal Labour advocate, this turnaround is humiliating.

I won’t be forgetting Starmer’s comments, and I won’t be returning to Labour under his leadership.

This article has been endorsed by at least one black Labour MP:

Black Lives Matter has published its own opinion:

If you click on the link to the article, you’ll see that BLM is asking Labour members to report anti-black racism within the party – including, presumably, that of its leaders – to their regional offices, with contact details included, hence Jackie Walker’s exhortation for people to do it.

Here’s a tweet identifying two more issues alongside the Black Lives Matter fiasco:

The first point refers to the way party officials allegedly defended “racist, sexist and abusive” messages about colleagues, as seen in the leaked Labour report on the party’s response to allegations of anti-Semitism.

Here‘s The Independent:

One third of the National Executive Committee’s members, including representatives from four trade unions, wrote to the Labour leader this week accusing his office of misleading them about how the party dealt with leaked WhatsApp messages by senior officials detailed in a controversial internal report.

The messages, which included senior officials saying they wished a prominent Labour activist would die in a fire, calling a left-wing staffer “pube head”, and commenting that female advisers had “stopped wearing bras” in meetings, provoked widespread anger in the party when they came to light earlier this year. The party’s NEC ordered an investigation, which is still ongoing.

However, last week Labour’s press office provided a statement to journalists covering the story that defended the comments, describing criticism as “po-faced” and stating: “These were messages exchanged between co-workers in the expectation that they would remain private and confidential and the tone of the language used reflects that.”

The comment outraged NEC members, who called for an apology and retraction at a meeting of the body on Tuesday, but Sir Keir’s office is understood to have told them that the statement was not intended for publication and said it had been provided by the party’s lawyers.

But the offending statement, which The Independent has seen in full, was sent to journalists at the OpenDemocracy website from the Labour press office’s main email account and refers to “the party’s lawyers” in the third person. Although clearly written in legal language, it has the subject line “Re: URGENT: Right of reply offer pre-publication”, suggesting it was issued in response to a request for comment.

Labour has launched an inquiry into the contents of the leaked report, but NEC members – rightly – pointed out that this was now prejudiced by the press release:

In their letter to Sir Keir, the 13 NEC members said: “The Labour Party’s statement was not only inexcusable in defending the racist, sexist and abusive comments in the WhatsApp groups, it also directly prejudged the specific issues that Martin Forde’s inquiry is considering. This prejudices Martin Forde’s inquiry and thereby undermines its independence.

“It is clearly unacceptable for party officials or officials in the leader’s office to politically interfere with or compromise the integrity of the independent investigation that the NEC has commissioned. As members of the NEC, we therefore ask that you issue an immediate apology for this Labour Party statement and retract it completely.”

No such apology or retraction appears to have been made. A statement that the quoted comments “do not in any way represent the party’s position in relation to the contents of the leaked report overall and do not prejudge the outcome of those investigations” is unconvincing; we can judge those words for ourselves.

The storm over the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey has been well-documented on This Site and elsewhere.

All in all, it seems Starmer has dug a hole for himself and seems determined to sit in it.

Perhaps he thinks this will all blow over and he’ll be able to carry on as though he hasn’t made a damn fool of himself and everybody who follows him.

It won’t.

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Coronavirus test and trace programme hit by further disasters on only its second day

This is going well, isn’t it?

Let me put it another way: it isn’t.

There are serious IT problems which mean contact tracers can’t use the dedicated “test and trace” website.

There isn’t enough work yet, meaning contact tracers are being paid for nothing – although they are being made to wait for it; payments have been unreasonably delayed or were for the wrong amount.

And they don’t even have dedicated team leaders to help them sort out these problems.

NHS workers in the scheme reported being unable to log into the new website, with staff saying they received a message saying a “critical incident” has been reported.

[Also:] “They’ve recruited all these people and there’s not enough work… launching this early was purely to try and dominate the news.

The tracer said she can see there are hundreds of contact tracer shifts available, commenting that, given there are no cases assigned to her, “I could book every day if I was that inclined and get money for sitting painting my nails!”

Another issue that contact tracers have told Sky News about is delayed pay.

One area of progress is that she now has been provided a number to talk to the team leaders but still has not been assigned a specific one for her.

Source: Coronavirus: Test and trace programme ‘hit by more problems’ on day two | UK News | Sky News

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The Conservative conference has been a disaster – for Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: Don’t you think he looks tired?

Cards on the table: I couldn’t be bothered to cover the Tory conference this year.

I figured it would be days of the unbearable addressing the unspeakable – and the following clips suggest I was right.

Biggest loser is clearly Boris Johnson. Consider this:

If you think that’s bad, look at this:

Well, we already knew he’s a racist.

And he has lost the confidence, even of young Conservatives:

Okay, two of the above were by the Tories’ political opponents, but they’re not wrong!

Don’t pay attention to the opinion polls. If the Tories get near a general election with BoJob as leader, they’ll be buried.

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