Tag Archives: Downing Street

Nurses protest outside Downing Street because they STILL don’t have proper PPE

More than half a year after Boris Johnson was warned of the dangers of Covid-19, nurses still do not have adequate protective equipment.

That’s why they held a protest outside Downing Street yesterday (June 3) – to demand better protection, and higher pay.

The government – as you may have come to expect – isn’t interested.

It isn’t an unreasonable request – especially for black, Asian and minority ethnic staff who have been proven to be more susceptible to the virus.

The campaign group Nurses United wants a 10 per cent pay rise for nurses and enhanced PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, after a report by Public Health England (PHE) revealed that more than 10,000 nurses, midwives, and nursing associates had contracted COVID-19, and a disproportionate number of BAME NHS staff have died.

The group is now calling for the government to provide FFP3 respirator/filtration masks for all nurses rather than the surgical masks currently recommended for nurses working outside of high-risk areas.

In response, the Tory government has shrugged.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said the NHS Pay Review Body would make recommendations on the next annual pay increase for nurses from April 2021, and that guidance on PPE had been developed in consultation with the medical royal colleges, based on World Health Organization advice.

That means “no”. The Tories are quite happy to continue putting hard-working medical staff in danger while they try to keep the rest of us alive.

And it doesn’t matter how many nurses die – or walk away in disgust leaving a weakened National Health Service to struggle on.

Source: Nurses take pay and PPE protest to Downing Street | RCNi

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Are we heading for the UK’s own ‘Watergate’-scale scandal over Brexit and prorogation?

Liar, liar: Did Boris Johnson look like this, in this now-infamous photo, because his pants were on fire?

Boris Johnson tells us that he did not lie to the Queen about his reasons for wanting Parliament prorogued. Do you believe this habitual liar?

I don’t.

I’m far more likely to believe Joanna Cherry MP, one of the 75 Parliamentarians who took the Tory government to court in Scotland over the decision to prorogue.

She thinks BoJob lied to our monarch, and she thinks that the government’s refusal to release communications on the subject by Downing Street aides – who were using their personal equipment to do so, is intended to hide the evidence. She says we could be heading for a scandal of Watergate-sized proportions.

And let’s be honest – the fact that the government is refusing to hand over the messages is extremely suspicious. If there was nothing incriminating on those devices, what’s the problem?

There is also a double-standard going on here.

Parliament has been prorogued because the Queen ordered it – on the advice of Mr Johnson, relayed by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

But it is also the Queen who ordered the release of information on these aides’ mobile devices – on the urging of a “humble address” to her by Parliament.

Boris Johnson’s government does not have the option to choose which of Her Majesty’s orders it chooses to obey. She wants the information out in the open so out is where it should be.

Looking at the government’s reasons for refusing the order – representatives like Michael Gove have said it is unreasonable to demand aides’ personal devices in order to see the messages on them.

But according to the law, aides are not permitted use their personal devices to discuss government business and the order was made because of concerns that this is exactly what they have been doing – in order to hide the facts from the public.

So the situation is clear: if these aides didn’t want us to see the contents of their mobile phones (or whatever devices they used), they should not have broken the law and used them. The evidence – the refusal to provide these devices – suggests that they did. They only way to vindicate themselves is to hand over the gear.

Otherwise we’re going to go forward – into a general election, as we understand it – in the belief that the leader of a party of government misled Queen and country for his own selfish reasons. That’s not a good platform on which to campaign.

I mean, nobody’s going to believe the word of a proven liar, are they?

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Now Johnson risks contempt of Parliament by refusing to release prorogation communications

Boris Johnson: If we had to judge a man by his gestures, this would give us an accurate understanding of his opinion of us.

Boris Johnson’s government is refusing to publish details of communications between Boris Johnson’s aides about the suspension of Parliament.

MPs voted for their release earlier this week, amid concerns that Mr Johnson misled the Queen to induce her to prorogue Parliament, and that the decision to call for prorogation was made earlier than he had claimed.

We already heard earlier today (September 11) that the prorogation was unlawful – although the Tory government is to challenge that ruling in the Supreme Court next week.

I mentioned reasons this was important in tweets earlier today (September 11):

This information came from Scottish solicitor Clive Wismayer, before you start thinking I’ve developed a rudimentary form of intelligence.

According to the BBC:

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the information sought by MPs was “unreasonable and disproportionate”.

It would breach the rights of the nine advisers concerned, including Boris Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings.

To do so, he added, would “contravene the law” and “offend against basic principles of fairness”.

But does it?

You see, when there’s a possibility that these people have been involved in a huge offence against democracy, one has to wonder whether these people are the ones trying to “contravene the law” and “offend against basic principles of fairness”.

In such circumstances, I’m not particularly bothered about breaching the rights of the nine advisers concerned, and I think it should be up to the courts to decide if the information sought was “unreasonable and disproportionate” – in the light of the information that their documents divulge.

The refusal to provide the information, in the face of Parliament’s expressed demand, seems the most suspicious act possible.

And as it is a direct refusal to honour the wishes of Parliament, it seems Boris Johnson is content to add contempt of Parliament to the six defeats heaped on him between the moment Parliament re-convened on September 3 and the moment it was unlawfully (as matters stand at the time of writing) prorogued.

He – and all his advisers – could be in serious trouble here.

Source: Parliament suspension: Government refuses to publish No 10 communications – BBC News

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Tory starvation of school budgets has sold out the future, say head teachers on protest march

You can’t create the future of a country on the cheap – that is the message of the Worth Less campaign by head teachers. They’re saying no child is worth less funding from the ignorant rich who form the Conservative government; for all our futures’ sake, they deserve every opportunity.

Our future has been sold out because Tory policy demands it.

That is the message behind the protest at Downing Street by more than 2,000 head teachers.

The Conservative government doesn’t care because rich Tories can afford to send their kids to private schools – not that it helps them much, considering the lack of quality evidenced by recent graduates. Look at Boris Johnson (if you can bear it).

So our children are forced to bear the brunt of Tory cut after Tory cut, and their head teachers have been forced into the impossible situation of having to try to balance the books when it is impossible to do so without harming their pupils’ education – and jeopardising the future of the United Kingdom.

You see, every school-age child whose education suffers today is a future doctor, nurse, teacher, firefighter, captain of industry, leader in the fields of science and technology or pillar of the community who won’t achieve their potential because of the selfishness of the obscenely rich.

So enjoy the fruits of your tax cuts, all you Tory-voting idlers. You’ll be dining on ashes one day soon.

More than two thousand headteachers skipped class for an “unprecedented” march on Westminster demanding increased funding for schools.

School leaders from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland met in Parliament Square before marching to Downing Street where a letter was delivered demanding more money.

The protest – organised by grassroots campaign group Worth Less? – saw thousands of school leaders collectively take the day off work to ensure their voices were heard.

Headteachers on the rally warned of collapsing school buildings, significant cuts to teaching staff, bigger class sizes and a loss of support for the most vulnerable pupils amid budget pressures.

And more parents are being asked to pay for essentials – such as loo roll, paper and pens – while an increasing number of schools are considering a four-and-a-half day school week, unions said.

Of course the Conservative government’s Department for Education tells a different story – of huge amounts of money going into schools, with advice on how to cut non-staffing costs and government-backed deals on equipment and energy.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “There is more money going into schools than ever before, rising to a record £43.5bn by 2020 – 50 per cent more in real terms per pupil than in 2000.

“The OECD has recently confirmed that the UK is the third highest spender on education in the world, spending more per pupil than countries including Germany, Australia and Japan.

“Every school attracts more funding per pupil through the National Funding Formula, high needs funding has risen to over £6bn this year and the 3.5 per cent pay rise we announced for classroom teachers on the main pay range is backed by £508m government funding.

“We know that we are asking schools to do more, which is why we are helping them to reduce the £10bn spent each year on non-staffing costs, providing government-backed deals for things like printers and energy suppliers that are helping to save millions of pounds.”

But you’ll have noticed that none of the information from the DfE refers to any independent research on the amount of money needed per pupil to provide even the most basic education.

Does the £508 million of funding set aside for a 3.5 per cent teachers’ pay rise actually meet the cost of the increase, or will some of it have to come from other budgets?

An increase of 50 per cent more in real terms per pupil than in 2000 means nothing if it isn’t enough.

Labour’s shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, put the right perspective on it:

As did Dr Lauren Gavaghan:

And Rachael Swindon:

Source: Thousands of headteachers march on Westminster over school funding ‘crisis’ | The Independent

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Theresa May’s reshuffle was so badly managed she even broke the Ministerial Code

(From the left) CCHQ Vice Chair for Local Government Marcus Jones, CCHQ Vice Chair for Communities Rehman Chishti, Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis, Prime Minister Theresa May and Conservative Deputy Chairman James Cleverly standing outside 10 Downing Street, London.

It’s a clear breach of the code, and it would be welcome to see the Cabinet Office admit it.

(This is not as remote a possibility as it may once have seemed, as Damian Green’s resignation came after he was found to have breached the code.)

Section 6 of the code states that Government property should not be used for “party political activities” – but this is precisely what Theresa May, who, as prime minister, should know better, has done with a silly publicity photo.

Here’s the pic, courtesy of airheaded Tory PR boss Carrie Symonds:

I’ve added another pic from the same shoot at the top of the article, just in case the tweet disappears for some reason.

If all these people had jobs in the government, it would have been permissible – but only party chairman Brandon Lewis has a government post.

The others are all newly-appointed to positions in the Tory Party hierarchy – and that’s not on.

The decision to pose for a pic in Downing Street will have been Theresa May’s, so she must take responsibility.

This could be fun.

Theresa May is facing fresh reshuffle embarrassment amid claims that she breached the Ministerial Code with her Downing Street PR stunt to promote the Tory party’s new top ranks.

Labour has written to the Prime Minister to complain that she was in clear breach of rules which forbid the use of any Government and taxpayer-funded property for party political purposes, HuffPost can reveal.

May led a parade of Conservative party chairmen and vice-chairmen in Downing Street on Monday as she started her shake-up of ministerial ranks.

The Conservative Party subsequently retweeted the picture on both their main twitter account and the Conservative Press account.

But just one of the appointees, party chairman Brandon Lewis, was given a Government post and the rest were all party jobs.

Section 6 of the Ministerial Code – which was updated only this week – says that Government property should not be used for “party political activities”, a strict rule that carries sanctions if breached.

Source: Theresa May ‘Breached Her Own Ministerial Code’ With Tory Party Reshuffle Stunt In Downing Street


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Talks with Tory Universal Credit rebels can’t have gone well – but can we expect concessions?

Theresa May is looking a bit fed up. Perhaps it’s time she had a long rest? [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images.]

If Theresa May had made any headway with Universal Credit rebels Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Johnny Mercer at Downing Street, she would have been crowing about it already.

So let’s assume she hasn’t. Does that mean she’ll make any concessions – like actually shutting down the rollout of the Great British benefit catastrophe until it actually does what the Tories have always claimed: Make work pay? No.

We can’t bank on it because Universal Credit hammers the poor very hard indeed – and hardline Tories love that.

That being said, if a show of mercy would avert another PMQs win for Jeremy Corbyn – or defuse another controversy over the validity of Opposition Day debates – then we might see some movement.

But any such concessions are likely to be symbolic only, and unlikely to end the agony for people already consigned to the UC scrapheap. Did I mention the fact that Tories love hammering the poor?

Theresa May has met with Conservative MPs threatening to rebel over the Government’s flagship welfare reforms in a bid to avert a public showdown in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister met with Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Johnny Mercer on Tuesday afternoon to listen to their concerns over the roll-out of Universal Credit, which was meant to simplify and streamline the benefits system but has been beset with problems.

The meeting comes ahead of two events that will put the troubled roll-out into the spotlight on Wednesday.

Labour is trying to stoke Tory division with an opposition day debate on Universal Credit, while Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke is due to give evidence to a select committee inquiry.

Downing Street refused to comment on Tuesday’s meeting.

But the audience with leading rebels on the eve of the opposition day debate has stoked speculation the Prime Minister might use Wednesday’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions or the later Universal Credit debate to announce concessions.

Source: Theresa May meets Tory Universal Credit rebels to avoid showdown


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Trial date for Cameron aide who allegedly made indecent images of children

Yes, this is the only photograph This Blog has of Patrick Rock.

Yes, this is the only photograph This Blog has of Patrick Rock.

Thanks to knowledgeable Vox Political readers, it is now possible to state that the trial of Patrick Rock will begin on May 31, 2016, following a pre-trial hearing on February 27.

Here are the details:

Judge Alistair McCreath, sitting at Southwark crown court, granted Patrick Rock bail until trial date in May.

Rock was originally charged back in June 2014 with three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child in August 2013. He was also charged with possession of 59 indecent images of children.

Mr Rock was one of David Camerons closest aids and was one of the government’s advisers on policy for online pornography filters.

Mr Rock resigned as a policy adviser to Mr Cameron after he was arrested.

The former deputy head of the No 10 Policy Unit has been close to Mr Cameron for two decades. The two men worked for Michael Howard when he was Home Secretary in the 1990s.

In Downing Street, he had the title of deputy director of policy and worked across a wide range of topics, including the government’s policy on child pornography. His seniority was demonstrated by the fact that he was one of only three advisers given his own private office in No 10.

Mr Rock is denying the claims.

Source: Lou Collins » Patrick Rock

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Does anybody know the result of the Cameron aide child abuse court appearance?

140304rock

Sometimes things get lost in the rush – especially if they’re hushed up.

So Patrick Rock, the former aide of David Cameron who had to resign after being arrested and charged with possessing imagery of children being abused, appeared before a judge at Southwark Crown Court on October 16.

This Blog warned last month that the case would fade into obscurity again unless somebody attended that court on the day and was able to publicise the date to which it was adjourned.

Obviously This Writer could not attend as Southwark is a very long way from Mid Wales.

Does anybody know what happened?

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Court appearance for Cameron aide on child abuse charges

A Rock in a hard place: Patrick Rock, formerly a senior civil servant and policy advisor, who now faces allegations that he possessed indecent images of child abuse.

A Rock in a hard place: Patrick Rock, formerly a senior civil servant and policy advisor, who now faces allegations that he possessed indecent images of child abuse.

At long last, Patrick Rock – the former deputy head of 10 Downing Street’s policy unit and aide to David Cameron – is to appear on court to answer charges that he possessed imagery of children being abused.

He will appear at Southwark Crown Court for legal argument on October 16 – more than 20 months after his original arrest. This information was obtained by a member of the public, in spite of protracted attempts by the Cabinet Office to claim that it had no information about what was going on. You can read that particular saga here.

Mr Rock was arrested on February 13, suspected of possessing child abuse imagery – shortly after he resigned his position working on policies that we all thought were intended to make it harder to find such images on the Internet.

Details of his resignation and arrest were not released to the public, but the media sprang into action and in a matter of days, the Daily Mail ran a major story accusing three leading members of the Labour Party of sympathising with paedophile groups.

It was only after this story had run its course that the major news media made the public aware of Mr Rock’s arrest – and Vox Political was not the only blog that voiced suspicions about the sequence of events.

Rest assured that this case is likely to fade into obscurity again unless someone attends Southwark Crown Court on October 16 and publicises the date to which the case is adjourned.

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Downing Street emails deleted to avoid Freedom of Information embarrassment

150617downingstreet

Closed door: Emails from 10 Downing Street are deleted in order to prevent embarrassing facts from reaching the public.

Downing Street has a “dysfunctional” email system which deletes messages after three months to prevent information being passed to the public in response to Freedom of Information requests, according to an incendiary report in The Independent.

It states: “Emails are only saved beyond three months if an individual saves them, which former Downing Street aides said caused ‘hugely frustrating’ problems over staff having different recollections of what was discussed an agreed at meetings.

“‘It means that people don’t remember things,’ a special adviser told the Financial Times. ‘It is dysfunctional. Then they check their emails and they don’t exist any more.'”

It seems a government official insisted the system had been introduced under a recommendation from the National Archives for “best records management”.

Yeah, right.

How can it be “best records management” to delete important information that should be saved for the record?

It will be interesting to hear the official point of view about this from the National Archives.

In the meantime – thank goodness – This Writer still has his copy of an email between the DWP and the Information Commissioner’s office, confirming that details of people who have died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance are available and may be published within the £600 cost limit for FoI requests.

The DWP may not have Downing Street’s automatic deletion system – or maybe it does. In any case, hard copy doesn’t lie.

Incidentally, at the time of writing, the petition in support of the DWP honouring the Vox Political FoI request stands at nearly 135,000 signatures. A lot of people want to know the facts.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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