Tag Archives: drink

If Matt Hancock has broken his own 10pm pub curfew, why should YOU honour it?

Matt Hancock – and the best word to describe him.

So much for the 10pm pub curfew. Once again, it seems, the Tories have led by example – if it’s okay for them to break it, it’s okay for you to break it too.

According to the Mail, of all papers, Matt Hancock – the Health Secretary who championed lockdown measures like the curfew – was caught breaking it after a late-evening vote:

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was last night accused of breaking his own Covid curfew by drinking in a Commons bar beyond 10pm – where he made a crass joke about the Government’s test and trace failings.

Mr Hancock arrived at the bar just before a 9.40pm vote, ordered a glass of white wine and announced: ‘The drinks are on me – but Public Health England are in charge of the payment methodology so I will not be paying anything.’

His ill-conceived joke came after he had tried to explain to the Commons why the quango had lost nearly 16,000 positive coronavirus tests – a fiasco which Labour claimed had put ‘lives at risk’.

A senior Tory MP told The Mail on Sunday that Mr Hancock remained in the Smoking Room bar until at least 10.25pm, despite Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle insisting that Commons venues must abide by the same 10pm drink-up-and-leave curfew as all English pubs.

A spokesperson for Hancock has tried to explain away what happened, but the comment lacks something – namely any explanation of where Hancock was after 10pm on the evening in question:

In a carefully worded statement last night, a spokesman for the Health Secretary said: ‘No rules have been broken.

‘The Secretary of State was in the Smoking Room prior to the vote that evening.

‘The Secretary of State left the Smoking Room to vote. The vote took place at 9:42pm. ‘The Secretary of State then departed the Parliamentary estate to go home.’

Asked whether Mr Hancock had returned to the bar after voting and before he went home, the spokesman failed to respond.

Doesn’t that tend to indicate that he had?

The public verdict is out already:

But the story was omitted from mention on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today (October 11) – for no apparent reason:

I publish this tweet also, as it links Hancock with the acts of other Tories:

The practical upshot of all this is that Hancock has provided us all with an excuse to drink – in pubs – after the 10pm curfew.

If it’s okay for the Health Secretary to carry on drinking in the Smoking Bar of Parliament, it is clearly fine for the rest of us to do the same.

That’s leadership by example.

And if we all do it, there’s nothing the Tories or the police can do about it.

Yes – there is the question of public safety. But the government has never provided a scrap of evidence that drinking in pubs between 10pm and 11pm actually increases the risk of catching Covid-19 to those involved.

And there needs to be accountability.

If these arrogant, unaccountable Tories keep breaking their own rules, they need to see that we will ignore those rules as well. We are all in this together.

Source: Matt Hancock makes tasteless Covid test joke in Commons bar as he ‘joined MPs flouting 10pm curfew’ | Daily Mail Online

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Coronavirus: NHS staff have to hide ID amid bids to steal their identity for free food and drink

This is sickening. How low can people go?

It’s possible to blame Tory policies that pushed millions of people below the breadline before the coronavirus crisis struck.

But it’s also entirely possible that these are just extremely selfish people who are seeing others getting something they’re not and want it for themselves.

Either way, it is not acceptable. NHS staff are risking their own lives to help people with the virus and this is a repulsive way to pay them back.

NHS staff are being targeted by muggers trying to steal their identity badges so they can use them to obtain the free food and drinks being offered to doctors and nurses tackling coronavirus.

Health service bosses are so concerned by a spate of incidents that they are preparing to warn all hospital staff to hide their NHS lanyards when they are arriving at or leaving work.

Source: NHS staff warned to hide ID after spate of targeted muggings | NHS | The Guardian

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Britons hoard £4bn of food, drink and medicine in fear of no-deal Brexit

UK citizens distrust their government so much that they have stockpiled billions of pounds worth of food, drink and medicine, due to fear that the Tories are too inept to maintain an uninterrupted supply, post-Brexit.

And who can blame them?

We’ve heard nothing but a constant stream of woolly-headed optimism from Tory ministers, while the UK’s negotiating position with the EU has deteriorated beyond salvation.

Now, BoJob is talking about “no deal” as being the default expectation, meaning prices are likely to skyrocket.

He doesn’t care; his life has always been cushioned by extreme wealth.

But if you care about your future, you’ve probably got a room full of non-perishable foodstuffs and any medication you may need – and you’ll be backing an early vote of ‘no confidence’ in the clown at Number 10.

Britons have spent £4bn stockpiling goods in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit, new research suggests.

One in five people are already hoarding food, drinks and medicine, spending an extra £380 each, according to a survey by the finance provider Premium Credit. The survey found that about 800,000 people have spent more than £1,000 building up stockpiles before the 31 October Brexit deadline.

If the UK leaves with no deal, businesses predict there will be short-term supply problems, which the government says it is mitigating.

Similar research in the weeks leading up to the original deadline for the UK to leave the EU found that about 17% of the population had spent some money building up supplies, with a total stockpile spend calculated at £4.6bn ahead of the 31 March deadline.

Source: Britons have spent £4bn stockpiling goods in case of no-deal Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

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Coalition government condemned over sanctions regime that tortures children

A poster against benefits sanctions in Salford.

Around 100,000 children were affected by benefit sanctions between the beginning of April 2013 and the end of March 2014, according to a new report.

In the same period, nearly seven million weeks’ worth of sanctions were handed out to benefit claimants.

The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, will feature in this evening’s episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches, entitled Britain’s Benefits Crackdown.

The report – Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions – is published today by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church Action on Poverty, the Church in Wales, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church. It contains new data on the severity and length of sanctions under ‘welfare reform’, and on how sanctions affect vulnerable groups such as children and those with mental health problems.

It features the stories of people like James [not his real name] who have had their benefits sanctioned: “During the first three weeks of my sanction I continued to look for work as I was required to.

“By the fourth week, however, I was exhausted, unwell and no longer had it in me. I was not eating as I had no food and was losing a lot of weight. I told the Jobcentre I was unwell through not eating, but was sanctioned for another three months for not looking for work properly,” he added.

According to The Void, Job Centres are being awarded special 'sheriff stars' for meeting sanction targets (that's right - the sanction targets that the DWP keeps insisting don't exist, even after being presented with the proof). Link: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/sandra-gives-the-game-away-jobcentres-given-sheriffs-stars-for-hitting-benefit-sanction-targets/

According to The Void, Job Centres are being awarded special ‘sheriff stars’ for meeting sanction targets (that’s right – the sanction targets that the DWP keeps insisting don’t exist, even after being presented with the proof). Link: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/sandra-gives-the-game-away-jobcentres-given-sheriffs-stars-for-hitting-benefit-sanction-targets/

“Those who already have the most difficult lives are those most likely to be sanctioned,” said Paul Morrison, public issues policy adviser for the Methodist Church and one of the authors of the report. “Sanctions impact disproportionately on young people, care leavers, homeless people, single parents, the mentally ill and those with long term illness. This system causes problems for the very people that most need help.

“But sanctions don’t just have a financial impact. The people we’ve spoken to have told us of the shame, demoralisation and loss of self-worth caused by this system. As Christians we believe that everyone is loved, valued and made in the image of God, and we have a responsibility to challenge any structure or system that undermines that dignity.”

The Churches are calling for a full and independent review of the regime and for urgent reform of the hardship payments system to avoid the deliberate imposition of hunger.

This is worth highlighting – these churches consider the government to be deliberately forcing hunger on people. Doesn’t that run against Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as enshrined in the UK’s Human Rights Act? Human rights campaigning organisation Liberty says this is the case, with this web page quoting a case study that includes “food and drink deprivation”.

In the meantime, they are urging the Government to suspend all sanctions against families with children and those suffering from mental health problems. Most importantly, they say, there needs to be a change of culture, from one of enforcement and punishment to one of assistance and support.

“If you commit a crime, no criminal court in the UK is allowed to make you go hungry as a punishment,” added Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty. “But if you’re late for an appointment at the Jobcentre, they can remove all your income and leave you unable to feed yourself or your family for weeks at a time.

Most people in this country would be shocked if they knew that far from providing a safety net, the benefit sanctions policy is currently making thousands of people destitute. This policy must be reviewed urgently.”

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said: “The findings of this report are disturbing. It exposes a system that is harsh in the extreme, penalising the most vulnerable of claimants by the withdrawal of benefits for weeks at a time. Most worryingly, it appears from DWP guidance, quoted in the report, that deprivation and hunger are knowingly being used as a punishment for quite trivial breaches of benefit conditions. Employers would not be allowed to stop someone’s wages for a month the first time they were 10 minutes late for an appointment, but this is the kind of sanction that is being imposed on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, including those with mental and physical health problems.

Here is the DWP’s own guidance to Job Centre officials on the subject. Judge for yourself:

150121dmg-sanctions

The Archbishop continued: “We are concerned that the problem may be even worse in Wales, recognising the higher levels of poverty in this country. No Welsh data, however, is included in the report because despite submitting a Freedom of Information request to the DWP three months ago, we are still waiting for a reply. There is supposed to be a 20-day turnaround period for Freedom of Information requests. We are pursuing this.”

It is clear that the DWP is in breach of the Human Rights Act and is subjecting benefit claimants to torture as punishment for late attendance at appointments.

This report by the churches is to be welcomed. Now, what can they do to punish the government for torturing its own citizens?

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Thurrock UKIP councillor Robert Ray suspended from party

"Robert Ray, pictured getting into the back seat of a car, was found to be twice the legal alcohol drink-drive limit when he was arrested" [Image: BBC].

“Robert Ray, pictured getting into the back seat of a car, was found to be twice the legal alcohol drink-drive limit when he was arrested” [Image: BBC].

Here’s a bit of comedy while we wait for David Mitchell’s comments on tax avoidance to be uploaded to YouTube by the team at The Last Leg. According to the BBC:

A UKIP councillor who asked police “Do you know who I am?”, when he was arrested for drink driving has been suspended.

Robert Ray, 65, admitted drinking and driving after a party function at Orsett Hall Hotel, Essex, last June.

At Basildon Magistrates’ Court last week, he was banned from driving for 19 months and fined a total of £1,160.

UKIP has confirmed the Thurrock councillor had been “suspended from party activity”.

The court was told when Ray spoke to officers, he asked them: “Do you know who I am? I am a prominent councillor, I know the police commissioner.”

The UKIP comedy parade rolls on.

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Westminster Abbey protest: Police launch inquiry over treatment of protesters

Image: @TheSilentAnon

By John Pring, Disability News Service

The Metropolitan police have launched an inquiry into the policing of a five-hour protest outside Westminster Abbey, apparently following allegations that officers prevented disabled activists from receiving food, drink and medication.

It is just the latest inquiry to examine how the force has dealt with disabled people who have taken part in anti-austerity protests since the coalition came to power in 2010.

Saturday’s protest at Westminster Abbey was aimed at drawing attention to the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF), and included about 10 ILF-recipients, all disabled people with high support needs.

A heavy police presence arrived minutes after activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) began setting up a camp on private land belonging to the abbey, with the support of the mainstream grassroots groups UK Uncut and Occupy London.

Some of the activists were not able to enter the grounds because security staff – who appeared to have been warned about the protest in advance – had already locked some of the gates.

The police presence continued to grow until there were more than 200 officers surrounding a group of about 50 protesters, about half of whom were disabled people.

One of the protestors who had been unable to enter the grounds, Robert Punton, described later in a blog how a disabled activist inside the metal railings asked Punton’s personal assistant to pass him a bag, which contained his medication.

But a police officer pushed the bag back over the fence, even though he was told it contained vital medication.

Officers also refused to allow food and water to be passed over the fence.

Read the rest of this article here.

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Tories and scandal (go together like a horse and carriage)

Scene of the - er - indiscretions: The Light ApartHotel in Manchester. [Image: Sunday Mirror.]

Scene of the – er – indiscretions: The Light ApartHotel in Manchester. [Image: Sunday Mirror.]

The Party of Sleaze shoots itself in the foot yet again.

It seems the Conservative Party has been keeping documentary evidence of Tory MPs’ indiscretions, crimes and bad behaviour in a “black book” (actually a blue folder), but this has now been destroyed for fear that the Party might be forced to reveal its contents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information in the “book”, which was destroyed a little more than four years ago as the Tories prepared for the 2010 general election, was used by party whips – its official title was “Whips’ Notes” – if they needed to persuade a colleague to support legislation they opposed, or a minister under fire.

Sources within the Conservative Party say this persuasion did not go as far as blackmail – although you are perfectly entitled to form your own opinion about this, dear reader.

The book’s existence was revealed by the Sunday Mirror, which also carried details of several more ‘sleaze’ scandals, including allegations that:

  • Taxpayers indirectly funded a £2,500 suite in the Light ApartHotel, used for a gay sex party during the Conservative Party’s 2011 conference in Manchester.
  • Senior Conservatives regularly tried to seduce male parliamentary workers after getting drunk at the House of Commons.
  • MPs and peers used ‘date rape’ drugs on junior activists, and paid for abortions after getting their staff pregnant.

The claims are eerily reminiscent of sleaze scandals from the Conservative Parliaments of 1979-1997, in which Cecil Parkinson was forced to resign after impregnating his secretary; David Mellor’s extra-curricular sporting activities with Antonia de Sancha; and sex scandals involving Tim Yeo and the Earl of Caithness.

The headline of this article is based on a song and is intended to evoke comparisons between ‘love and marriage’ and ‘Tories and scandal’.

To close, let’s remember another well-known saying and conclude that if a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can a Tory resist sleaze.

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