Tag Archives: Dominic

Raab’s move from Foreign Office to Justice is a DEMOTION

And quite right too – although he should have been kicked onto the backbenches to go back to his lazy old ways.

Remember: Dominic Raab came to public attention as a co-author of the book Britannia Unchained, which alleged that British workers were among the laziest in the world. It was then revealed that he was one of the laziest MPs in the House of Commons.

And let’s face it he’s been absolutely rubbish as Foreign Secretary:

We knew he was on his way out after the debacle that was the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. He actually admitted that the intelligence agencies of both the UK and USA were outsmarted by a gang of desert-dwelling Taliban terrorists (but were they? Or was he just too stupid to pay attention to what they were saying, and did he think the Taliban would abide by what he decided to do? That was Joe Biden’s mistake).

He had only just got back from holiday, although he claimed he had been working – there – from the moment he had been told of the emergency. He denied claims that he had been seen sunning himself on the beach by claiming that “The sea was closed.”

His pathetic performance was highlighted by the resurfacing of an image of him posing with a woman wearing a sign saying, “He has no idea what he is doing” (above).

Trouble is, his role as prime minister Boris Johnson’s official stand-in has been confirmed with Raab named Deputy Prime Minister in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle. But his record in this respect is no cause for pride:

Covid-19 safety rules told us not to touch objects when we don’t know where they’ve been, and then lick our fingers. Raab did it while standing in for Johnson at a Covid-19 press conference.

He still has this job. In fact, it has been given a title for the first time.

Perhaps that’s the reason he has said he is delighted with the change.

Because going from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Ministry of Justice is, in no uncertain terms, a demotion. Raab is out of favour, and rightly so. He is a disgrace to UK politics.

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Did Raab really tell us the UK’s intelligence agencies were outsmarted by Arab terrorists?

Rattled: Dominic Raab tries to explain himself during his grilling by the Foreign Affairs committee. Look at the way his hands were twisting as he tried to justify his failures.

This will upset the racists and Islamophobes.

Foreign Secretary (by the skin of his teeth) Dominic Raab was interrogated on the fall of Afghanistan by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee yesterday (September 1) – and said information provided by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) had told him the Taliban were unlikely to take control of Kabul at all in 2021, even after international forces including those from the UK had left.

Well, they got that badly wrong, didn’t they!

The JIC is a civil service body comprising senior officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and United Kingdom Armed Forces, Home Office, Department for International Development, HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office.

It oversees the work of the Secret Intelligence Service, the Security Service, GCHQ and Defence Intelligence.

Are we to take it from Raab that none of these organisations were intelligent enough to notice that there were real problems with the Afghan government and military that UK forces were leaving behind?

Is he really saying that the UK’s entire intelligence community was outsmarted by a gang of desert-dwelling bandits?

The plan was to leave Afghanistan defended by its own National Army – but we have discovered that this organisation was badly-trained (by organisations including the British Army, it seems) and riddled with corruption. Was Raab telling us that nobody knew?

After the United States broke the Doha Agreement’s May 1 deadline for leaving the country, the Taliban simply walked into Kabul and took over. Yes, This Writer is oversimplifying, but the amount of resistance provided by the Afghan National Army was minimal – and UK intelligence should have known.

Indeed, it is unbelievable that our intelligence agencies did not.

Still, there it is: Raab said the “central assessment” provided to ministers was that Afghan security was likely to suffer “steady deterioration” after US troops pulled out last month, but Kabul was “unlikely” to fall this year.

That assessment was wrong, and now we need to know who made it, what information they used to make it, and what information they ignored. Then we’ll need to see evidence of reforms to the JIC, to make it more intelligent.

If Raab is going to blame other government organisations for the incompetence we have seen over Afghanistan, then we need to see him make improvements – or we’ll face more humiliations, possibly involving large-scale loss of life, in the near future.

As it is, the message has gone out to foreign powers and terrorists: the United Kingdom is vulnerable because it is run by fools who believed fairy tales rather than facts and who went on holiday when they were needed.

Worse, Raab admitted that the UK did not start planning for the end of military operations until April. This is even though he knew the Doha Agreement of February 2020 meant US troops had until May 1 to leave.

He went on to say planning for a possible evacuation did not begin until June – by which time the Taliban were already making deep inroads towards Kabul. He added that this was in line with the UK’s Nato allies but that is neither here nor there; the UK is not responsible for other nations’ actions. Evacuation plans should have been made from February 2020 onwards.

Raab was challenged on his claims by committee chair Tom Tugendhat, a former member of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan. He pointed out that a “key risk report” from late July had warned of a rapid Taliban advance that could lead to them returning to power in Kabul.

Raab seemed to know nothing about it and asked for the source of this information – to which Tugendhat responded, bluntly, “It’s your principle risk report.”

So it seems Boris Johnson isn’t the only imbecile in the Tory government who can’t be bothered with the details.

The failure of intelligence extends to the number of UK nationals who were left behind after the panicked, everyone-for-themselves evacuation. Raab told the committee he thought “hundreds, possibly the mid to low hundreds” were standed after the last plane left.

But this is contradicted by the evidence of the government’s own email account that was created to take applications for help to leave Afghanistan, so that a list of those who genuinely needed to be taken out could be created.

It was ignored. News reports over the last few days have shown that messages – including information from senior Tory government ministers – went unread while Raab and his colleagues were running around like headless chickens.

Some reports have suggested that the number of people left behind is more likely to stand at several thousand.

Raab also made the – fair – point that the precise number of people who deserve to be brought to the UK depends on eligibility, and this is hard to work out because of a lack of documentation. Is that because the relevant documents were left – unshredded, even – on the floor of the UK’s former embassy in Kabul?

Personal details of UK-linked Afghans were found by a Times journalist there, and Raab was reminded of this. He said three families were subsequently evacuated but evaded the question when asked if they were owed an apology. Weren’t they? What about details that were not discovered?

Raab contradicted himself by saying applications for Afghans who helped the UK to apply for resettlement here were sped up from April onwards. But why so late? Remember, the deadline for the US to leave was May 1, and it was unreasonable to believe that the Taliban would not advance from then onwards. And the UK had been aware of the situation since February 2020.

The BBC’s running analysis of the meeting reported: “The lack of specific numbers … will further fuel concerns from backbench MPs that the figures have been vastly underestimated and that there could be as many as 7,000 eligible Afghan applicants left behind – a claim Dominic Raab has previously rejected.”

The impression we get of Raab is of a man who has been very far out of his depth throughout this crisis – and, considering he had fair warning of it from February 2020 onwards, this means he has never been capable of handling his responsibilities as Foreign Secretary.

Important information was ignored in favour of mindless optimism; evacuation plans were delayed until too late and vital information was left behind for the Taliban, creating a danger to the lives of allies.

And Raab refuses to resign. Is this because he wants to find out whether he can cock up future crisis even more badly than this?

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Kabul was Boris Johnson’s Dunkirk. If Churchill had failed as badly, he’d probably have shot himself

The lucky ones: a packed plane leaves Kabul – no thanks to Boris Johnson and his gang of UK government ditherers.

What a mess. This was not a retreat; it was a rout.

It seems clear that Boris Johnson’s withdrawal of the UK presence from Afghanistan was unplanned, unco-ordinated, and left behind much information of interest to the Taliban who have taken over.

The decision to move the military and leave civilians behind means more than 1,000 of our people are still in Kabul – and Johnson’s promise to do something about it rings as hollow as all his other promises.

Isn’t that what he said about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who remains imprisoned in Iran, years after he involved himself in her case as the UK’s Foreign Secretary?

That’ll be a “yes”, then. As for his vow…

The UK evacuation is over and many have been left behind

As I said above, Kabul is Boris Johnson’s Dunkirk.

But whereas Dunkirk was carried out in comparative efficiency, with everybody working to help everybody else get out of France before the Germans arrive, it seems Kabul represented Boris Johnson’s “everyone for themselves” philosophy.

So:

Indeed. Also:

There is no “Phase Two”.

This refers to former marine and animal charity founder Pen Farthing, who has escaped Kabul with around 200 rescued dogs – but whose staff were not allowed to leave.

The fact that dogs were allowed to leave may seem like a huge victory for animal-loving Brits – but the fact that the UK allowed human beings to be left behind will almost certainly make a mockery of us in Taliban propaganda.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had claimed he would prioritise people over pets but it seems the huge amount of publicity Farthing had received via media and social media had forced him to change his mind. We’ll find out in the future if that was a wise decision.

Meanwhile, it seems communications sent to the government email address that was supposed to be used to work out which Afghan nationals needed to be taken out of Kabul have gone unread – including cases flagged up by ministers:

According to the article,

An official email address used to collate potential Afghan cases from MPs and others regularly contained 5,000 unread emails throughout the week.

In many cases, emails detailing the cases of Afghans who fear for their families’ lives appear to have been unopened for days. An email from the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, sent on Monday was still unread on Thursday. There also appeared to be unread messages from the offices of Victoria Atkins, the newly appointed minister for Afghan resettlement, the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the Tory chair of the defence select committee, Tobias Ellwood.

The revelation calls into question the suggestion from ministers that the number of Afghans left behind would be up to 1,100 in total.

So it seems the 1,100 figure for personnel left behind may be a huge underestimate.

Documents were left behind that could be hugely harmful for unevacuated personnel

British Embassy workers who did a runner from their compound to the relative safety of Kabul’s airport around two weeks ago failed to destroy documents identifying local workers and job applicants, according to reports.

Who knows what other sensitive documents were left lying around? And why did it happen? Normally, one of the key protocols in a sensitive diplomatic withdrawal is the shredding of sensitive and classified information, but this seems not to have happened.

Have I already put my finger on the problem – that Boris Johnson and his dimwit Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dithered so long about taking a decision that Embassy staff ended up having to scramble to save their own skins and weren’t able to do the necessary?

If so, then the Taliban may now have access to any amount of information that they could find extremely useful in the future. Depending on how they use it, we could be in for a lot of trouble – and ultimate blame will rest with our terminal b*ttf**k of a prime minister.

Look at this:

And how about this, in response to a tweet I sent about Johnson’s domestic disasters:

It reached the point where some people have satirised the situation, finding humour in the fact that the Johnson government employs people who are very good at losing documents – but didn’t put them in the right place:

Samuel Miller ought to know – he has been campaigning to raise awareness of the unfair, persecutory mistreatment of benefit claimants, particularly those who are sick and/or disabled – for longer than I have.

Hypocrite Priti Patel has been greeting refugees on arrival in the UK and talking down other countries who she says should do more

Even here in the UK, government ministers are doing everything they can to humiliate us as a nation.

So Priti Patel, the home secretary who has locked refugees in squalid concentration camps to catch Covid-19, and who wants to make it illegal to save refugees from drowning if they are trying to cross the Channel into the UK, has been greeting Afghan refugees at Heathrow Airport.

Why?

Apparently the woman who has been trying to seal up all legal routes for refugees to come here has now claimed that refugees must only travel to the UK through legal routes.

Do you think she is wondering why she received responses like this?

Possibly the worst news available for these refugees is the fact that, by throwing their lot in with the UK, they have now ended up in a poverty trap:

And Patel has apparently told other countries that they must do more to help refugees – because she has absolutely no sense of shame:

In a sane country, every government body involved in this monumental fiasco would be out of a job and possibly facing charges in the International Criminal Court – but the United Kingdom is now so riddled with corruption that Johnson and his gang are most likely to shrug it off.

They’ll go looking for the next crisis they can turn into a calamity. After all, their lives aren’t on the line.

If Winston Churchill had presided over such a fatal mess, This Writer feels sure that he would have done the decent thing and swallowed a high-speed bullet.

But Churchill, for all the faults that he did have, was not an indecisive incompetent. He would not have made Johnson’s (and Raab’s, and Patel’s) mistakes.

And, sadly, Johnson does not have Churchill’s quality of character – so we can’t expect him to do what Britain Expects of him. He’s too much of a coward.

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Also in the news: maskless Johnson terrifies shoppers while we all laugh at Raab

Boris Johnson actually attends a COBRA meeting

Oh, and afterwards he went into Marks and Sparks without a mask on.

Sajid Javid offers to open more Tory ‘hospitals’

More humiliation for Dominic Raab

An image of him with a woman wearing a sign saying “He has no idea what he’s doing” has resurfaced on the social media after the mess he made over Afghanistan proved her right.

The backlash against Brexiteers is growing at grassroots level

Ian Botham named as trade envoy to Australia

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How did the West mess up Afghanistan so badly? Here’s a quick primer

Cycle of violence: are we seeing a permutation of this cycle now, in Afghanistan? [Image: Miki Henderson.]

You’ve probably been wondering why Vox Political hasn’t commented on the international clusterf**k that has happened in Afghanistan over the past few weeks.

Simple answer: I was trying to understand what has happened – which meant going into more than 20 years of background material.

Yes, more than 20 years. Western powers have been tinkering with the Middle East for centuries, trying to dominate, and we all know (don’t we?) that Afghanistan has been a particularly tricky nut to crack.

Anyone who has read George MacDonald Fraser’s first Flashman novel will have seen what a mess the British Army made of it in the 1840s under Lord Elphinstone. The army there wasn’t just defeated; it was obliterated.

We have a more recent example of failure to subjugate the natives (and I think this can be observed in such colonial-racist terms) in the Soviet occupation that ran from 1979-89.

That incursion followed a Communist coup by a repressive organisation that vigorously suppressed opposition and executed thousands of political prisoners, and whose leaders were themselves divided. This division, and the possibility that Afghanistan may start supporting the interests of the United States, prompted Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev to invade and install a puppet leader.

The intention was to secure towns and roads, stabilize the government under a new leader, and withdraw within six months or a year. But fierce resistance from insurgent groups (remember the Mujahideen?)  and difficulties with the harsh Afghan terrain pushed the Soviets into a war that lasted more than nine years and has been labelled the “Bear Trap” or the “Soviet Union’s Vietnam”. It ended with the retreat of Soviet forces in February 1989, after which Afghanistan remained in a state of civil war.

Guerilla fighters don’t get anywhere without help; they needed funding and weapons, and found both from a number of sources including – principally – the United States.

One might expect this to mean Afghans would be grateful to their US benefactors, right? Well, there’s a problem, and it is this:

After the Soviet withdrawal, Afghans started blaming the US for miseries caused in that country because it continued to fund rebels against the pro-Soviet administration that had been left in Kabul. Rebel rocket attacks in 1989 and 1990 went nowhere near military targets but killed civilians instead. And the US apparently had no interest in humanitarian aid to clear up the mess caused by a decade of conflict that it had supported.

Crucially to the current situation, many Afghans believed the US to be responsible for the rise of the Taliban. And who had been there all along, providing support to the US and acting in concert with the US government? The United Kingdom under Thatcher and Major – that’s who.

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, on September 11, 2001, was believed to be “blowback”, or unintended consequences of supporting the Mujahideen, with principal planner of the attack Osama Bin Laden claiming the suffering of the Afghan people after the Soviet withdrawal was a consequence of US involvement.

Interestingly, while the US certainly funded guerilla organisations in Afghanistan, the question of whether it provided cash to Bin Laden’s group, Al Qaeda, is difficult to answer. Some say no; others say he had been their best general against the Russians.

Whether US relations with Bin Laden were good or bad, they soured when Saudi Arabia refused Bin Laden’s offer to fight the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, that happened in 1990. The Saudis turned to America instead and it is understood that Bin Laden never forgave the slight.

His organisation had been based in Sudan, but had been expelled, and returned to Afghanistan to take refuge with the Taliban.

This may seem contradictory to you. If the US was considered responsible for the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, why was 9/11 carried out by a Taliban ally?

The only answer I can offer at present is this: opportunism. Acting against a widely-perceived enemy offered a propaganda victory that might reasonably be expected to help win power. And hasn’t that turned out to be the case now?

Let’s backtrack a little, to the years immediately preceding 9/11. It seems a US thinktank called the Project for a New American Century had been building influence in the US government. This organisation’s stated aim was “to promote American global leadership”. In other words: world domination.

By the time of 9/11, members of the group had come to dominate the George W Bush administration, including Donald Rumsfeld (Defence Secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Defence Secretary) and others. They were in a position to put their aim into practice – but they needed a pretext. And 9/11 was it.

The hijackers who flew passenger planes into the World Trade Centre and tried to fly one into the Pentagon were all from Saudi Arabia, but they had been trained in Afghanistan – making that country the logical location for a response (or, in the words of then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, a chance to “capitalize on these opportunities”).

But Afghanistan was only the second choice. Rumsfeld wanted to attack Iraq because “there were no decent targets in Afghanistan”.

They were easy targets, though – and attacking Afghanistan would make it possible to topple the fundamentalist Taliban regime there that had been obstructing US plans to build an oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.

So the troops rolled in, installed Hamid Karzai (allegedly an employee of Californian oil company Unocal, along with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad), got their oil pipeline and moved on.

The UN Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – ostensibly to train the Afghan military to a standard by which they could defend themselves, but mainly to defend the newly-installed government against attempts by the Taliban to retake the country. Principal troop contributors were the United States and the UK.

ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan were formally ended in 2014, with full security responsibilities being transferred to the Afghan government – but on the very same day, the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed, in which thousands of troops remained in the country to train and advise Afghan government forces and continue fighting the Taliban. Again, US and UK troops were prominent among them.

Then in April this year, new US president Joe Biden announced that he would be withdrawing US troops from the country – because he could see no way of defeating the Taliban.

According to the Washington Post,

Biden’s decision comes after an administration review of U.S. ­options in Afghanistan, where U.S.-midwifed peace talks have failed to advance as hoped and the Taliban remains a potent force despite two decades of effort by the United States to defeat the militants and establish stable, democratic governance. The war has cost trillions of dollars in addition to the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members. At least 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.

“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” said one person familiar with the closed-door deliberations who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy planning. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.”

The goal is to move to “zero” troops by September, the senior administration official said. “This is not conditions-based. The president has judged that a conditions-based approach . . . is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. He has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown and will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11th.”

In other words, this was unconditional surrender to the Taliban. No wonder they swept in.

Everything else that has been said about the situation in Afghanistan was just talk, to cover up the fact that both the US and the UK were running away from that country with their tails between their legs.

So, for example, consider this:

My bet is that the UK intelligence on this was that the Taliban would be in control by mid-August, and Johnson was just blustering to stave off the international humiliation that the situation has caused to the UK – which has been America’s principal ally throughout this whole fiasco, dating back to the 1980s.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that Joe Biden’s decision was based less on the chances of military victory and more on projections of the kind of financial gain US commercial interests might enjoy by staying in Afghanistan; with no likelihood of profit, it was time to pull out.

At the end of the day, we see that Afghanistan has again defeated foreign attempts to assert control. As the British were ejected in the 1840s and the Russians in the 1980s, so have the Americans (and, again, the British) now.

It was never going to end any other way.

And now we in the UK are once again facing the consequences of our governments’ – successive administrations stretching back to Thatcher – interference in a place where we should not have been.

One of those consequences is the threat to lives posed by the Taliban, and the failure of the Boris Johnson administration to take anything like the necessary steps to save those lives.

And so the circle of violence turns. We invade a country, cause lives to be lost; we withdraw, and more lives are lost. Now people from that country are likely to come to ours hoping to kill some of us in return – and won’t that prompt our leaders to demand we go back and deliver reprisals?

We need a better solution.

But all we have are Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab.

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.

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Why did the Tory government use public money for polls about Opposition politicians?

Dominic Cummings (left): when he was chums with Boris Johnson (right), he ordered civil servants to spend public money on party political polling that should have been funded by the Conservatives, not the nation.

More Tory crony contracts: Ex-Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings and ex-Vote Leave Downing Street colleague Ben Warner pressurised civil servants to give more than £1.3 million in contracts to polling firm Hanbury Strategy, run by ex-Vote Leave comms chief Paul Stephenson.

Your money was frittered away on Cummings’s Vote Leave friends. And for what?

For party political polling on Labour leader Keir Starmer and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

And emails show Cummings pressuring officials by saying anybody who would “whine” about it should be told the order came from prime minister Boris Johnson.

The emails, published by the Good Law Project (GLP), show civil servants were uncomfortable about the polling, with one saying in May 2020: “Hanbury measure attitudes towards political figures, which they shouldn’t do using government money, but they’ve been asked to and it’s a battle that I think is hard to fight.”

Mr Cummings wrote: “Pls sign off immediately so Paul S can get our large scale polls into field TODAY. Anybody in [the Cabinet Office] whines tell them I ordered it from PM.”

A civil servant wrote: “This all makes me really uncomfortable. Ben Warner wants us to spend £110k of public money per month with the agency who were behind Vote Leave who have no mainstream polling experience.

“And he wants to be in on the call/talking to Hanbury directly. Q is what do we do?”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner is no angel, as we’ve all discovered, but This Writer thinks she was right when she said, “This has the hallmarks of a racket, not a government acting in the national interest during a pandemic.

“Taxpayers’ money that has been abused in this way should be paid back by the Conservative Party.

“Taxpayers’ money is not the personal cashpoint of Conservative Ministers to dish out to their mates.”

Source: Government used public money for polls about Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan – Mirror Online

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The vultures are circling Boris Johnson – and not just because he lost Chesham & Amersham

It’s not just losing elections: remember when Boris Johnson showed contempt for our Armed Forces by laying his wreath face-down? That’s just one example of his idiocy, running right up to the G7 meeting this month. He’s an embarrassment to the UK – and it seems his own people are awaiting the moment to push him out.

What a fragile career Boris Johnson has!

He won an 80-seat majority in the 2019 general election, and followed that by trouncing Labour in the local elections and in a by-election that Labour should have won.

But he loses one by-election and suddenly the knives are out – wielded by members of his own party.

Admittedly, they’re members who have already criticised Johnson already – but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong and it doesn’t mean people won’t listen.

So here’s Dominic Cummings calling Johnson a “clueless” “gaffe machine”:

During the 2019 December election, the PM refused to be interviewed by veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil who was at the BBC at the time.

Mr Cummings, the PM’s former top aide, has now revealed the apparent communications strategy behind the decision, claiming the PM was “clueless about policy”.

Mr Cummings tweeted: “Why the f*** would [we] put a gaffe machine clueless about policy & government up to be grilled for ages, upside=0 for what?!

“This is not a hard decision… Pundits don’t understand comms, power or management. Tune out!”

And now here’s another Dominic – Grieve, the former Attorney General – praising the intelligence of Chesham and Amersham voters by saying they had paid attention throughout the Johnson experience and they’d had enough:

Of course, Johnson is oblivious to this kind of criticism from the public and from people outside his camp.

But the fact that this is getting into the Tory-owned media shows that people inside the government aren’t happy with him either.

One by-election isn’t enough to do that.

So I reckon Johnson has put a more than a few Tory government noses out of joint and they’re just waiting for the opportunity to get their own back.

He’s on course to win Batley & Spen, but that’s because Keir Starmer is clueless and doesn’t understand how to keep it for Labour.

I think we’ll see a lot more pressure on the prime minister from now on.

Source: Cummings says Boris is ‘gaffe machine’ who is ‘clueless about policy’ | Evening Standard

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Cummings’s WhatsApp revelation shows up the shortcomings… of KEIR STARMER

Q: which one of these is “totally f***ing hopeless”? A: it was a trick question. They BOTH are.

About half an hour before Prime Minister’s Questions on June 16, Dominic Cummings published WhatsApp messages from March last year that appeared to show Boris Johnson stating that Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock was “totally f***ing hopeless”.

If that’s true, then Hancock should never have been allowed to remain as Health Secretary throughout a pandemic crisis. The incompetence he exhibited to the UK’s prime minister, and the PM’s lack of confidence in him, means he was always likely to preside over more than 100,000 (maybe more than 200,000, if some calculations prove correct) unnecessary deaths.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner correctly identified this:

But the Opposition leader, Keir Starmer, clearly didn’t – because he never mentioned it in Prime Minister’s Questions:

It’s a basic failure that shows Johnson and Hancock aren’t the only ones in Parliament who can’t do their job properly.

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Johnson’s government actually asked ‘Who do we NOT save from Covid-19?’ – but nobody seems to care now

“Who do we NOT save?” a whiteboard showing the moral bankruptcy the Johnson government reached in the Covid-19 crisis.

There’s a big problem with Dominic Cummings’s evidence to the government, as provided (and reported ad nauseum yesterday): we all know he’ll say anything to justify himself.

Remember the narrative he created in order to justify breaking lockdown rules to visit his family? We all knew he did it because he thought he was above the laws the rest of us have to follow.

And he was proved right, too, because he was not punished at all.

So it is hard to accept anything he said yesterday at face value. He was trying to justify himself and to disparage his former colleagues in Boris Johnson’s Tory government.

For the record, some of his main points were:

“Tens of thousands of people died, who didn’t need to die.” This is the soundbite that sent the mass media into a frenzy. But it has prompted no resignations among the Johnson government yet.

“Senior ministers, officials and advisers like me fell short of standards the public has a right to expect. When the public needed us most, we failed.”

Boris Johnson had ‘ignored advice’ and was late to introduce both the first and second lockdowns. The PM was consistently anti-lockdown, ignored scientific advice and failed to take Covid seriously – even ranting last summer that he should never have done Lockdown 1.

It would not have been helpful for Johnson to attend emergency COBRA meetings in February – five of which he missed – because he would have had flippant responses to the crisis: “In February the Prime Minister regarded this as just a scare story. He described it as the new swine flu.”

It was suggested that Johnson should tell everyone “It’s swine flu, don’t worry about it, I’m going to get Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realises it’s nothing to be frightened of.”

Cummings “blamed” Johnson for the second wave, thanks to his flat refusal to lock down for a second time in September. He told MPs: “Fundamentally I regarded him as unfit for the job.”

On March 12, Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill said, “Prime Minister, you should go on TV tomorrow and explain to people the herd immunity and that it’s like the old chicken pox parties – we need people to get this disease because that’s how we get herd immunity by September.”

That day, Chief Scientist Patrick Vallance told the nation suppressing the virus completely was not “desirable” because some immunity was needed. And Boris Johnson told the nation “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.”

Cummings said March 12 was the most “surreal” day of his time in government because, just as he was waking up to the danger of Downing Street’s “delay the peak” plan, he claimed, “suddenly the national security people came in and said Trump wants us to join a bombing campaign in the Middle East tonight. Fortunately, thank God, the attorney general persuaded the PM not to go along with the whole bombing campaign.”

On top of all this, that day the Times had run a huge story about the Prime Minister and his girlfriend and their dog. “And the Prime Minister’s girlfriend was going completely crackers about this story, and demanding that the press office deal with that. So we had this sort of completely insane situation in which part of the building was saying are we going to bomb Iraq, part of the building was arguing about whether or not we’re going to do quarantine or not, the Prime Minister has his girlfriend going crackers about something completely trivial, and you have all these meetings going on through the course of the 12th.”

Cummings became downright festive in his descriptions of Matt Hancock’s contribution to the Covid-19 tragedy – as described in a separate article on This Site.

Boris Johnson had no idea for weeks that people leaving hospital into care weren’t being routinely tested in late March.

That led to the virus being seeded into care homes and tens of thousands of residents dying.

Matt Hancock promised that people were going to be tested in care homes – but this did not happen: “It was only in April after the Prime Minister and I had both ourselves been ill that we realised that what we were told never did happen, or only happened very partially and sporadically. The government rhetoric was ‘we put a shield around care homes, blah blah blah’ – that was complete nonsense. Quite the opposite of putting a shield round them, we sent people with Covid back to the care homes.”

Until the second week of March the consensus in Downing Street was that there was no point locking down because it would only delay the inevitable peak.

But former Deputy Cabinet Secretary Helen Macnamara allegedly said another top official, Mark Sweeney, had told her: “I’ve been told for years there is a whole plan for this. There is no plan. We’re in huge trouble.” In fact there was a plan – but it had last been updated in 2011 and was nine years out-of-date.

Ms Macnamara said on March 13: “I think we are absolutely f****d. I think this country is heading for a disaster, I think we are going to kill thousands of people.”

Carrie Symonds had pursued “completely unethical and clearly illegal” attempts to pack No 10 with her own friends. Cummings said: ”My resignation was definitely connected to the fact that the Prime Minister’s girlfriend was trying to change a whole bunch of different appointments in No10 and appoint her friends to particular jobs. In particular she was trying to overturn the outcome of an official process about hiring a particular job in a way which was not only completely unethical but was also clearly illegal.

Cummings said he told the PM on March 14: “There is no lockdown plan. It doesn’t exist. SAGE haven’t modelled it. [The Health Department] don’t have a plan. We are going to have to figure out and hack together a lockdown plan.”

He said by March 11, when there was “pushback” about ordering people with coughs to stay at home, he believed “the system is basically delaying announcing all of these things because there’s not a proper plan in place.”

Officials also dodged locking down because they thought the public wouldn’t accept it. But that was clearly “false”, and he said he realised that when family members were texting pleading for information.

Cummings said claims about extensive preparations for a pandemic were ”basically completely hollow” and “we didn’t figure this out until the back end of February”.

Boris Johnson refused pleas to lock down for a second time in September, only doing it from November 5.

“He wasn’t taking any advice. He was making the decisions himself,” said Cummings.

“The Cabinet wasn’t involved…there wasn’t any formal Cabinet meeting to discuss it. Or if there was, it was a purely Potemkin exercise.”

The PM had decided he was protecting the economy, and Mr Cummings said “we could not persuade him that if you basically took the view of ‘let it rip’”, it would lead to an economic and health “disaster.”

Mr Johnson later used the phrase “let it rip” as a catchphrase to showcase the kind of approach he would not take.

The government was turning down ventilators in late March because prices had been marked up. [Instead, it has been alleged elsewhere, Johnson offered James Dyson tax breaks to manufacture ventilators – but that came to nothing].

Downing Street staff drew up a back-of-a-fag-packet plan for Covid-19 on a whiteboard, which included the line “Who do we not save?”

We’re about halfway through Cummings’s allegations. They have prompted a huge verbal response from the public, along these lines:

And yet there is very little demand for change.

Even Matt Hancock, the minister Cummings attacked most strongly, is still in his job.

Have we all stopped caring that these self-obsessed incompetents killed off our relatives and friends due to their own inability to do their jobs?

Or have we just given up expecting them to be visited by any kind of justice – after Cummings himself got away with his Barnard Castle rule-breaking junket?

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Defending the indefensible: Hancock responds to Cummings allegations – with LIES

Liar: Matt Hancock is so incompetent that the web of lies and half-truths he spun before Parliament, in response to Dominic Cummings’s allegations about him, is easily shredded.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been trying to defend himself against claims by former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings that he should have been sacked for dishonesty and incompetence in the early weeks of the Covid-19 crisis.

It isn’t going well!

Cummings said he called for Matt Hancock to be sacked “almost every day” due to alleged “criminal” behaviour but claimed Boris Johnson was advised to retain the health secretary because “he’s the person you fire when an inquiry comes along”.

He said Hancock should have been fired for “at least 15 to 20 things – including lying to everybody on multiple occasions”.

And he implied that Hancock should face charges of corporate manslaughter for allowing unnecessary deaths.

Cummings accused Hancock of being obsessed with meeting a “stupid” target he set himself to offer 100,000 Covid tests a day and of diverting officials’ attention away from the task Cummings had set them to build a test-and-trace scheme from scratch capable of processing 1m tests a day.

Recalling a major battle in Whitehall, Cummings said he had to call around and tell people “do not do what Hancock says, build the thing properly for the medium-term”. Meanwhile Hancock was telling them to “down tools on this” and “hold tests back so that I can hit my target” in order for him to crow about his success in TV interviews.

Cummings also said he warned the prime minister in February and March that if Hancock was not fired, “we are going to kill people and it’s going to be a catastrophe”.

Turning to the times Cummings said Hancock lied, he recalled that the health secretary blamed Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, for a shortage of personal protective equipment, claiming they had “blocked approvals”. Cummings said he asked Sedwill to investigate to find out if that was correct, and that Sedwill later told him it was “completely untrue”, meaning he had “lost confidence in the secretary of state’s honesty in these meetings”.

Asked if he made a note of Sedwill’s findings, Cummings said yes and promised to supply proof to the two committees quizzing him.

He said there were numerous other examples, also citing Hancock claiming over the summer that “everyone who needed treatment got the treatment they required”.

Cummings claimed: “He knew that was a lie because he’d been briefed by the chief scientific adviser [Sir Patrick Vallance] and the chief medical officer [Prof Chis Whitty] himself about the first peak, and we were told explicitly people did not get the treatment they deserved. Many people were left to die in horrific circumstances.”

It seems Tory MPs leapt to Hancock’s defence, even though it is unlikely they knew any of the facts:

Hancock himself said he didn’t watch Cummings’ testimony because he was busy “saving lives” – attracting a huge amount of ridicule, of which the following is just a part.

We know some of the facts:

Fact-checking by The Guardian states that Dominic Cummings’ claim – that Matt Hancock had said a protective shield would be put around care homes but that this was nonsense – was true.

Responding to MPs’ questions in the House of Commons today, Hancock started by saying the government had met every goal it had set. This is clearly nonsense.

Did the government reach its goal of testing 100,000 people a week by May 1? No – and Hancock lied about it. This Site reported the facts at the time.

Other lies included the claim that Covid-19 vaccines only won swift approval in the UK because the UK is no longer part of the European Union. In fact, the approvals were granted according to EU rules. This Site reported the facts at the time.

He lied that suicides had decreased during the pandemic. This Site reported the facts at the time.

And as late as February this year, he lied that there had never been a national shortage of personal protective equipment. Again, This Site reported the facts at the time.

So his evidence to the Commons didn’t get off to a good start: consciously lying to Parliament is a sacking offence.

He said the government had been straight with MPs and the people. Judging from the evidence above, this is clearly another lie.

He said scientific developments had been followed by ministers – but this is another lie. Boris Johnson admitted lying about “following the science” in February.

He has dodged questions about the “test and trace” fiasco. The government launched a privatised scheme and threw £37 billion at it. Nearly a year later, it still doesn’t work.

He has been asked why there was no national plan for the pandemic, and said that the government has been learning how to respond by dealing with Covid-19. This is dissembling. The Tories do have a national plan for dealing with a pandemic emergency – but it was last updated in 2011 and was hopelessly out-of-date when Covid hit the UK.

This appearance has been a tissue of lies and evasions which even the most cursory fact-check can tear apart with ease.

Hancock was clearly trying to hide the fact that he has failed to handle the Covid-19 crisis with anything like the competence expected of a government minister.

He was also trying to hide the fact that he has lied to Parliament and to the nation on dozens of occasions – by lying yet again.

He has to go. More to the point, the prime minister who protected him has to go as well. When will Boris Johnson face a similar interrogation?

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