Tag Archives: event

UK Covid deaths remain horrifying – so Tories are opening gyms, swimming pools and outdoor performances

Oliver Dowden: do you believe this face when it tells you it’s safe to go back in a swimming pool with loads of other people who’ve never had a Covid-19 test in their life?

Imagine a plane crash killed 157 people. It would be top of the day’s news. A terrorist incident killing 126 would also be the top headline.

Those were the Covid-19 death figures on Monday and Tuesday, and the media – led by the Tories – tried to make it seem like a cause for celebration!

And now, to top it all off, culture secretary Oliver Dowden has announced the latest plan to increase the death toll: reopening gyms and swimming pools!

It seems they want us all to die.

Dowden said outdoor theatres could reopen immediately, along with recreational sports. Indoor pools, gyms and sports facilities will follow.

Here are the details:

  • Outdoor pools will be able to re-open on 11 July
  • Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities will then be able to re-open from 25 July
  • Grassroots sport will be able to return from this coming weekend, beginning with cricket (other sports will follow)
  • Outdoor theatres will be able to start up from Saturday
  • Small pilots of indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will also take place to help work out the best way to get them up and running
  • From Monday 13 July, beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close contact services can reopen “subject to some restrictions on particularly high-risk services”

Okay, so how will we be able to avoid catching Covid from other users of these sporting facilities? Dowden said there will be “enhanced cleaning” at gyms and pools.

How the hell is that going to work?

In a place like a swimming pool, where people immerse their entire bodies – including the faces that we’ve all been told not to touch since March – what are they going to do?

And nobody will be asked to wear a face mask in a gym.

So that’s fine. If anybody asymptomatic takes Covid-19 into a gym or pool with them, everybody there is certain to catch it.

Dowden held a press conference, touching on other matters. For example:

He said he was “absolutely confident” Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson would not have ordered parents to send children back to school unless it was safe to do so. Oh, really?

England suffered a wave of school closures after Johnson and Williamson ordered them to open too soon and outbreaks of Covid happened.

If Dowden was “absolutely confident” Johnson and Williamson’s plan was safe, this does not bode well for his reliability on gyms and swimming pools.

And in response to a question on sanctions for people who flout the rules, he said he was “tremendously heartened” by the “good British common sense” the British public had displayed.

Does he mean the common sense displayed by the public in Soho when the pubs opened on Saturday? Let’s look at a picture of them all keeping two metres away from each other:

Or we could consider what happened at Bournemouth when the sun came out?

Well.

Apparently the police have the power to disperse crowds. Clearly they didn’t exercise it on Saturday.

Perhaps they were too busy stopping and searching 12.5 per cent of London’s black population for no good reason instead…

Dowden also – implausibly – claimed that the government continues to be “informed by science” on the pace at which it is reopening the economy – but we can see that this isn’t true.

Asked about the data the government has seen since pubs and hairdressers re-opened last weekend, he said it was “all continuing to move in the right direction”.

But we won’t know whether those reopenings have led to an increase in Covid infections for another week and a half.

It all adds up to nothing less than sheer foolhardiness from a government that knows it is the people who will suffer for Tory mistakes.

You’d think Boris Johnson would have got the message after a hospital in his own constituency had to close its Accident & Emergency unit, with no fewer than 70 people going into self-isolation.

But no.

He wouldn’t get the message if it was written in fiery letters across the sky and followed him wherever he went.

He’d probably just try to convince us that God was wrong for arguing with him – and then deny it when religious leaders got angry.

Source: Coronavirus updates: Culture secretary gives update on reopening of economy in England – BBC News

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‘Journalists’ whine as Momentum bans ‘The Sun’ from Labour conference fringe event

This is Momentum’s argument for refusing to let The Sun into its ‘The World Transformed’ event – and it is persuasive.

This is what years spent abusing privilege gets people.

Journalists (and I use the word with tongue firmly planted in cheek) from the mass-market news media think they have a right to go where they want and behave as they please. They don’t.

People organising events with limited admission are well within their rights to bar certain people from admission – and Momentum had a very good reason for telling reporters from The Sun to do one.

Here‘s the issue encapsulated by iNews:

“Momentum has banned The Sun newspaper from attending its conference event in a show of “solidarity” with a boycott over its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

“The pro-Corbyn Labour group said journalists from the Sun are not welcome at The World Transformed, its fringe conference event coinciding with the main party conference in Liverpool this weekend.

“In a statement, it said the paper had ‘smeared’ victims of the Hillsborough stadium tragedy, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

“And it said it was supporting a long-running boycott of the paper in the city.”

That is correct. Here is Momentum’s statement in full:

And here’s the response from one disgruntled – well, he calls himself a journalist:

Mr Hodges has a history of being incorrect. Look at his recent run-in with Michael Rosen.

Also weighing in with histrionics was Grauniad hack Heather Stewart:

She was dumped back in her box, pretty much tout suite.

The Guardian has taken a strong anti-Labour, anti-Jeremy Corbyn direction in recent years and there is a campaign to force it back towards impartial reporting – or into bankruptcy – by boycotting the publication while it persists in its current behaviour. You can understand why, can’t you?

This is the new status quo – and right-wing MSM hacks need to get used to it: Actions have consequences.

That’s right. And that’s why ‘journalists’ from The Sun are going to get this response from now on:

Any questions, Rupert Murdoch?

If so – too bad. Nobody can be bothered to talk to you or your lackeys.

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Lucy Powell’s speech at festival of ‘racial hatred’ makes the case for mandatory reselection

Lucy Powell: What stronger argument for mandatory reselection could there be?

What a great team player Lucy Powell really is!

Despite being “100 per cent” on the side of hecklers who shouted “Corbyn out!” at an event last weekend, her mere presence showed that she was in support of the ‘mandatory reselection’ of MPs, a policy that Mr Corbyn’s supporters want imposed across the party.

Because you see, she was attending an event that purported to be a demonstration against anti-Semitism… organised by friends of far-right organisations including the English Defence League and the Football Lads’ Alliance.

That’s not a demonstration against racism – it’s a rally for it!

And Ms Powell was there, along with fellow Labour MP Louise Ellman (representing the Jewish Labour Movement, so we all know where that organisation now stands), and former Labour Home Office minister Beverley Hughes (now Baroness Hughes of Stretford, deputy mayor of Greater Manchester for policing and crime).

Also attending were Marie van der Zyl, current president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis.

All of the above clearly thought it was worth standing up with racists in order to attack a man who is not a racist.

How would you describe such people?

Tony Greenstein – another target of the accusers – knows exactly how he would describe them.

In his blog, he states: “This demonstration has nothing to do with anti-semitism and everything to do with supporting Israeli Apartheid. Those organising it stand full square behind a racist ‘Jewish’ supremacist state that bars Palestinians from hundreds of Jewish only communities.

“The EDL, formed by Tommy Robinson aka Steven Yaxley-Lennon, was an organisation of Islamaphobic and racist bigots which managed to combine support for Israel with Hitler salutes. Tommy Robinson himself is popular with Zionists these days and completed a tour of Israel with his Zionist fan Dr Brian.”

He said the organisers of Sunday’s demonstration, the North West Friends of Israel, were deeply involved with the EDL: “In its opposition to Palestine solidarity demonstrations outside the Israeli Kedem shop protest in Manchester in 2014, NWFOI worked with the EDL… As a report at the time observed: ‘NWFOI warmly welcome the English Defence League to their demonstrations.’ The accompanying commentary by Natan Levinson of NWFOI, explained that: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’”

That seems to have been Ms Powell’s justification for attending an event supported by the far-right. She jumped in feet-first, too, as this clip shows:

Mr Greenstein’s article describes the connection between the EDL and the organisers of Sunday’s event, the North West Friends of Israel. He also states that the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it would never have anything to do with the EDL and its then-leader: “Tommy Robinson’s record of anti-Muslim provocation means that he could never be a partner of a respectable or mainstream Jewish organisation.”

Yet here’s the Board’s president, reeling off a list of lies about Jeremy Corbyn at Sunday’s event.

The enemy of her enemy is her friend, it seems.

This should signal the end of any credibility held by the people named at the top of this article, and the organisations they represent. The reaction on the social media has been damning:

And Jewish Voice for Labour – a group that represents British Jews just as much as the Board of Deputies claims to – made its own disgust at the event, and participation in it by people claiming to represent them, perfectly clear.

In a press release, the organisation stated: “For the last three years there has been a concerted effort to discredit and unseat Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition, a man who is quite possibly the most consistent anti-racist leader the Labour Party has ever known.

“This campaign has been led by a coalition of groups which are deeply opposed to Jeremy’s championing of Palestinian rights together with political opponents many of whom have shown little previous interest in combating antisemitism.

“Rather than seeking to oppose genuine anti-Jewish hatred, they have cynically sought to amplify and manipulate the anxieties of British Jews in order to further their political aims.

“Many of those organisations and individuals taking part this Sunday, including Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and the Board of Deputies, are the same instigators of the campaign against Jeremy.

“That progressive Jewish organisations, including those supporting Palestinian human rights, were excluded from participating suggests that the organisers and speakers are not acting in good faith.

“For some of the headline speakers, however, the demonstration is not just about antisemitism. Rather it concerns the uncritical defence of some of the actions of the Israeli government whilst giving voice to those who want to remove Jeremy Corbyn, a consistent and principled supporter of Palestinian rights, as leader of the Labour party. We cannot emphasise enough that they do not speak for us.”

Of course – according to some – JVL represent the “wrong kind of Jew”. Look at the reaction this announcement received:

The evidence is clear. This was a racist event, organised and supported by racists who hid beneath a banner of opposition for anti-Semitism.

Under normal Labour Party rules, Lucy Powell, Margaret Hodge and all the other elected representatives who supported it would get away with such an outrage, free as birds, because constituency Labour parties would have no democratic power to remove them.

They would then be able to continue openly campaigning against a leader who is supported by a clear majority of Labour members, presenting lies about him to the public via an unquestioning (right-wing) media establishment, with an ultimate aim of undemocratically removing Mr Corbyn from office.

But their appearance at this event shows that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue. MPs must support the leader, and the will of the party – or they must be replaced by those who will.

By appearing at this appalling event, Lucy Powell and the others have done the Labour Party a huge service.

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Ellman’s lie raises serious questions about Labour Friends of Israel

Louise Ellman: Why did she lie?

Louise Ellman is vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, an organisation with whom Shai Masot claimed to be working when he was conspiring to adversely influence UK politics in favour of the Israeli government.

This party-within-the-Labour-Party has gone unscrutinised for far too long. Masot was exposed and withdrawn from the UK more than a year ago but it seems no questions have been asked about LFI.

Now it is spreading indignation about an event hosted by Jeremy Corbyn, supporting claims that a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who was at Auschwitz could be an anti-Semite, and keeping quiet about its own leaders’ tacit support for ugly pro-Zionist demonstrations.

Labour is quick to condemn rank-and-file party members for far less abhorrent behaviour. Why are these people immune?

Labour Friends of Israel vice-chair and Labour MP Louise Ellman has been at the forefront of much of the loud criticism of the party and its leader over alleged antisemitism, appearing regularly on programmes to express her dismay. The latest manifestation of that criticism is a claim that he acted somehow inappropriately in arranging an event at which Jewish Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer spoke.

She appeared on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, claiming to have been ‘appalled’ to find out about the event.

She did not mention – nor did the programme – that she attended the same 2010 event for which she and others were criticising Corbyn.

In fact, she was there far longer than Corbyn was.

Corbyn introduced the event and then had to leave to be elsewhere, before returning later. Ms Ellman, by contrast, is reported as staying throughout – including during a major disruption caused by pro-Israel demonstrators who invaded the event and heckled survivors of other genocides when they spoke.

A letter, written at the time to the Tribune, puts her attendance beyond question:

“A tiny group of Zionist fanatics invaded the gathering and shouted so continuously that the careful programme was derailed, though not prevented from happening. This was a total destruction of the democratic space for over an hour – something I’ve never seen before in any Parliamentary meeting. It was sickening to hear the hounding of 85 year-old Dr Meyer, and the bellows of ‘boring!’ every time any survivor of a different genocide tried to tell their experience.

“Most shockingly, Louise Ellman MP – who as Vice Chair of Labour Friends of Israel was presumably attending as an observer with a companion from the Board of Deputies – both sat unmoved without making the slightest attempt to quell their fellow supporters of Israel and create an open space. They later tried to guilt-trip MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Brian Iddon for bravely hosting the event.”

Source: Video: Ellman ‘appalled’ to find out Corbyn at 2010 Meyer event – that she personally attended | The SKWAWKBOX

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This is NOT the state of British politics, but you should still be sickened [STRONG LANGUAGE]

Clive Lewis has apologised for the words he used a month ago. [Image: ANTONY KELLY].

You can tell the Conservatives are in trouble – one of their most fervent supporters on the social media has just whipped out a month-old ‘dead cat’ to distract us all from the Tory disasters about Universal Credit and Brexit, among all the others.

You’ll recall that ‘dead cat’ is a term for a tactic in which a dramatic, shocking, or sensationalist topic is introduced into any kind of discourse (in this case UK politics) in order to divert attention away from a more damaging subject.

In this occasion, it is an incident in which Labour MP Clive Lewis is heard saying, “Get on your knees, bitch,” at a Momentum-hosted game show running alongside the Labour Party conference last month.

He said it to Mr Sam Swann, a 28-year-old actor who was kneeling on the stage to take the score, and who clearly did not take offence. He told The Independent, “It is clearly jovial… I think Clive Lewis is an absolute legend.”

So no hard feelings. And let’s face it, if it was such a terrible thing to do, surely an outcry would have been kicked up immediately – right?

After all, the entire event was filmed by Novara Media and has been on that organisation’s Facebook page since September 28. There are only two comments and neither is a complaint about Mr Lewis.

But a week is a long time in politics, let alone a month – and the revelations about Harvey Weinstein broke between then and now. Suddenly it became possible for a remark made in poor taste but that was “jovial” to be considered entirely beyond the pale.

And then the Tories had a bad, bad couple of weeks. Clearly someone thought it was time to distract us all with a dead cat disguised as a “bitch” – so a cropped clip appeared on the Guido Fawkes blog.

This is not where British politics is at the moment – it’s just where certain people want us to be looking, instead of at the failings of the minority Conservative government.

It didn’t take long for rent-a-quote Labour MP Jess Phillips to stick her knife in, apparently assuming Mr Lewis said the offending words to a woman:

Novara’s Aaron Bastani clarified:

Tricky point, this, as brosocialism is a word that can be weaponised against the people to whom it refers. People identified as such are said to see the political discourse as being entirely about the class struggle, with problems of racism and sexism arising from that. There is an argument for it – referring back to Weinstein, you can see that his crimes (if he’s guilty of them, which has yet to be proved in court) arose from the fact that he was in a position of power over others, which is exactly what the class struggle is about.

Mr Bastani’s point is that accusations of sexism against him can’t apply as he and Novara do not discriminate on grounds of gender. Fair point?

If all her mates are women, then doesn’t that mean Ms Phillips is sexist? And besides, what about the upper-class elephant in the room?

It seems clear that Ms Phillips is mistaken to bang the sexism drum, as the following suggests:

https://twitter.com/ScouseGirlMedia/status/921502577816203264

That seems to be the attitude from those who were there:

Meanwhile, people are calling out Guido Fawkes blogger Paul Staines for hypocrisy, as he freely uses the word “bitch” in his own writing. Examples follow:

And what about the way followers of the Guido Fawkes blog have treated Dawn Foster? Read this:

The misapplication of the sexism label has incense many commentators. Let’s go back to Aaron Bastani’s comment, pointing out that Mr Lewis was talking to a man. Here’s the response from Guido Fawkes:

Brace yourself for the following responses:

It seems some Tories and Tory supporters have been trying to get on the bandwagon, but they’re being shot down:

https://twitter.com/SeemaChandwani/status/921384113772298240

Finally, let’s have a dose of reality:

And:


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Cameron and Osborne have fleeced us all – and are talking about it on the after-dinner circuit

The last laugh: David Cameron and George Osborne failed the UK bitterly – but succeeded in making a fortune for themselves.

This Writer agrees with Jeremy Corbyn: “The Tories have spent 6 years lining the pockets of their friends & as soon as they can they line their own pockets.”

Also, isn’t it interesting that George Osborne’s speech is at an event by HSBC – the bank of tax avoidance – while David Cameron’s is at an event by PwC – the accountants of tax avoidance?

David Cameron and George Osborne are being paid tens of thousands of pounds each to make speeches for leading financial institutions at the World Economic Forum.

The former Prime Minister and Chancellor, who this time last year were leading figures at the forum, will this year only attend the fringes of the event held in Davos, including a number of parties and private dinners.

Mr Cameron is to give a speech at a dinner held by accounting firm PwC, while Mr Osborne will appear at an HSBC event for 20 clients.

The fees charged by them are understood to be “in the high five figures”, plus travel and accommodation expenses.

Source: David Cameron and George Osborne cash in with big-money Davos visit

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Tories’ ‘Benefit Street’ event ‘encapsulates all that is wrong’ about the social security debate

 

Benefits-Street-football-protest

No benefit: After Middlesbrough FC supporters heard the new series of Benefits Street was to be filmed on Teesside, they flew banners attacking the decision at the club’s next match. That’s how popular the series’ approach to benefit recipients has been with the public.

This is utterly perverse. The Conservative Party conference is to play host to a ‘debate’ (we won’t dignify it with any acceptance that it really is one until after it has happened) on social security that is more likely to be a piece of theatre intended to lay blame on the vulnerable.

According to Ekklesia, a debate titled ‘Benefits Street: What more needs to be done to help people into work?’ will feature Mark Hoban MP, the former Minister of State for Employment, Steve Hughes, Head of Economic and Social Policy at Policy Exchange, and Deirdre Kelly, described on the event’s promotional material as ‘Deirdre Kelly, (White Dee) Television Personality, Benefits Street.’

The ‘debate’ will be chaired by Allegra Stratton, political editor of Newsnight, so her card is now well and truly marked. Those of you who are still burdened by the belief that the BBC is a hive of socialism, take note.

There are so many ways this can go badly wrong – especially from a moral standpoint. Let’s look at what Ekklesia’s Bernadette Meaden has to say about it:

“First, the title of the debate. It seems based on the now very tired assumption that the unemployment rate is not actually a function of the economy, beyond the control of individuals, but the fault of unemployed people. If this is not the assumption, why not call the debate, ‘How can we create more jobs?’ And why make the association with Benefits Street, a programme notorious for stigmatising people on benefits and unleashing a stream of hostility towards the people who took part?

“Secondly, the composition of the panel. Mark Hoban was Employment Minister in 2012 when a more punitive sanctions regime was introduced for unemployed people. At the time he promised a “rude awakening” for claimants, and wrote, “I make no apology for this. I am clear that for too long some people have taken benefits for granted as a way of life rather than as a safety net.”

“Another thing Mr. Hoban did not make any apologies for was the contribution of hardworking taxpayers to his own way of life. After introducing a sanctions regime which has been blamed for causing soaring demand for foodbanks and payday loans, Mr. Hoban was allowed to keep just under £133,000 profit he made when he sold his taxpayer-funded second home.

“By my calculations that amounts to thirty five years worth of Jobseekers Allowance, on top of his considerable salary. And yet, on this panel, Mr. Hoban will presumably be the guardian of the public purse which funds the ‘lifestyles’of benefit claimants. It is unlikely that he will be under scrutiny for the considerable benefits he has received from the taxpayer.

Steve Hughes of Policy Exchange has an economics degree and previously worked at the Bank of England, the British Chambers of Commerce, and in Parliament. Policy Exchange has made many proposals to cut the social security budget, including lowering the benefit cap outside London and the South East, capping child benefit at four children, and a ‘smarter’ sanctions regime. Policy Exchange has contributed to an approach which is tough on benefits claimants, not tough on the causes of benefit claims.

“The third member of the panel, Deirdre Kelly, became a ‘TV Personality’ when she featured in the documentary series ‘Benefits Street’. Ms Kelly, a single mother of two, was employed until five years ago. Post-natal depression and bereavement have contributed to her mental health problems, and it has been reported that she is under the care of a mental health team. She can be outspoken, and her agent (who presumably gets a percentage of any fees she earns) says, ‘In classic Dee style, she said she won’t think about what she wants to say until the actual debate. She shoots from the hip, Dee, and that’s what everyone likes about her. This will be a great way for her to get her ideas out – and hopefully she will get to go for a drink with David Cameron.’

“To me, this panel seems disturbingly unbalanced, and perhaps designed to attract publicity. To have the voice of a working class person who has actual experience of the benefits system heard in such a forum is welcome and long overdue. But to engage in a public debate with an experienced politician and an economics expert would be a daunting prospect for anybody. With two of the panel instrumental in social security cuts and stricter conditionality, is it left to the non-professional to defend the unemployed, sick and disabled, who suffer when such policies are implemented?

“For balance, would it not have been fairer to include another panel member, who could counter the well-honed views of the ex-Minister and the professional researcher? Or perhaps Ms Kelly agrees with the two other members of the panel, in which case it won’t be much of a debate.

“Of course, it is the job of the person chairing the debate to ensure that everybody gets a fair hearing. The person chosen to fill this role does not inspire confidence. In 2012, around the same time as Mr Hoban was introducing tougher sanctions, Ms Stratton conducted an interview with Shanene Thorpe, a young single mother from Tower Hamlets. She quite aggressively questioned Ms. Thorpe why she was living in her own flat, claiming Housing Benefit, when she could be living at home with her mother. After the interview, Ms. Stratton spoke directly to camera, saying, “The government is thinking of saying to young people: if you don’t have work, don’t leave home.”

“The clear implication was that Ms Thorpe was unemployed and living off benefits as a lifestyle choice. She was actually working full time, and had been in work or work-related training since she was sixteen, but this inconvenient truth was edited from the interview. After Ms Thorpe complained that she had been misrepresented and humiliated, Newsnight eventually issued a public apology. So, as a Chair for a ‘Benefits Street’ debate, Ms. Stratton does not inspire confidence.

“In conclusion, let’s imagine the tables were turned. Would an MP who had received the equivalent of 35 years of Jobseekers Allowance, thanks to a public subsidy and a rising property market, agree to a public debate on MPs expenses with, for example, two people on benefits, chaired by a member of the Occupy movement?

“It is impossible to imagine such an event taking place, or even imagine anyone proposing such an event; and that speaks volumes about the way the whole welfare debate has been framed for the last four years.”

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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