Tag Archives: foreign

Is aid cut a Tory bid to inflict avoidable megadeaths on foreigners?

RIP democracy: Boris Johnson cut aid to foreign countries without offering MPs a chance to vote on it. His claim that the law allows such a move is highly debatable. 

The message This Writer took from MPs’ failure to force a vote on reversing foreign aid cuts is that it means there will be hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths in affected countries.

That was said by Tory Andrew Mitchell, who seems to have come a long way since the “BikeGate” controversy.

And the really offensive part was that the decision to cut foreign aid from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of National Income (do they mean Gross Domestic Product?) was taken without allowing Parliament to vote on it.

It was an offence against democracy, because Boris Johnson’s Tory government believes in dictatorship instead.

And (obviously) it believes in finding ways to ensure that as many people as possible die.

Ministers have said it is possible to vary the amount spent without changing the 2015 law that makes the target binding.

But the decision to make the change unilaterally means there is no deadline for restoring that target – meaning the government could leave the cut in place indefinitely.

Isn’t there a more important question to be answered, about what’s being done with this aid money?

Isn’t it important that it should be used to ensure that the nations receiving the money need less and less of it in the future?

Has that been happening? How can we check?

There are many questions to be answered about foreign aid and This Writer hopes the debate on Tuesday (June 8) provides some of the answers.

The joy of it is that the Tory government has shot itself in the foot, whatever happens.

It has already garnered bad publicity over this in the week before the UK hosts the G7 summit.

It will receive more bad publicity with the debate.

And Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he wants a substantive vote, which means if Boris Johnson refuses to grant it, he’ll have even more bad publicity.

Source: Foreign aid: Rebel Tories blocked in bid to reverse cuts – BBC News

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Johnson insults Turing with foreign education scheme on the cheap

Insult AND injury: if the injustice he suffered while he was alive wasn’t bad enough – and remember, it drove him to suicide – it seems Boris Johnson is trying to make it worse by linking one of the UK’s greatest minds with a scheme that will actually prevent students from achieving their potential.

We always knew the UK backed out of the ‘Erasmus’ scheme, for UK students to study in the EU, for only one reason: to save money.

Now the scale of Boris Johnson’s cheapness is becoming clear.

The new scheme, named after Bletchley Park code-cracker Alan Turing, will send students all over the world, rather than just into the EU.

But it will not pay for their tuition. Instead, universities are to be urged to agree tuition fee “waivers” with their counterparts abroad. Does anybody really think that’s going to happen?

Nor will the new scheme pay travel costs for UK students to study abroad – except in the case of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (but we know that the Tories are biased against such students from last year’s ‘A’ level results so it seems unlikely that any travel costs will be paid at all).

The European Commission had paid up to £1,315 for UK students to study in the EU, so this will seriously hinder the ability of poorer students to travel.

Oh, and just for good measure, the living allowance has been slashed – by a fifth, according to the Scottish National Party.

Originally, Johnson had promised that UK students would remain part of the far better-funded Erasmus.

But it seems clear that he changed his mind when he realised there was an opportunity to cut spending – and victimise poorer UK citizens at the same time.

(Rich students will still be able to study abroad if they want, because they can rely on the bank of mummy and daddy.)

Instead, he announced the new Turing scheme, doing his best to make it sound like a huge stride forward into a brighter, wider world:

In fact, Johnson is pushing us into darkness and isolation.

Source: New ‘Erasmus’ scheme will not pay tuition or travel costs and living allowance slashed | The Independent

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Johnson should have done this 10 months ago: he’s stopping foreign travel

Gatwick Airport: there won’t be many planes overhead there from Monday (January 18).

‘UK to close all travel corridors from Monday’ says the BBC headline. Confused?

It means travel into and out of the UK will be halted, in a bid to stop new strains of Covid-19 from infecting people here.

The UK is to close all travel corridors from Monday morning to “protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains” of Covid, the PM has said.

Anyone flying into the country from overseas will have to show proof of a negative Covid test before setting off.

It comes as a ban on travellers from South America and Portugal came into force on Friday over concerns about a new variant identified in Brazil.

Boris Johnson said the new rules would be in place until at least 15 February.

The science has been telling Johnson to do this since before March last year.

But he kept ports and airports open throughout the Covid-19 crisis, only restricting travel to and from specific countries and regions.

Now – at long last – he has finally given in to overwhelming evidence and done the right thing.

But will he ever admit he was wrong to delay for so long?

Source: Covid: UK to close all travel corridors from Monday – BBC News

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Did Boris Johnson axe international development department so he could misuse its cash?

Boris Johnson can’t be trusted with cash: he seems to give it to his friends whenever he can – and the fear is that he’ll do it with the budget of the soon-to-be-scrapped Department for International Development.

Boris Johnson is being urged to forget his plan to scrap the Department for International Development on the grounds that money would go to the wrong nations.

The DfID is being merged with the Foreign Office but whereas the DfID has spent a majority of its budget in the poorest countries and has a reputation for transparency, the same cannot be said for the FO – especially under Boris Johnson.

When he was Foreign Secretary (between 2016-2018), it was in the middle of spending £84 million on China – which can hardly be said to require aid.

Indeed, 39 per cent of FO cash has gone to higher- and middle-income nations, with just 22 per cent going to the poorest countries.

The facts of the matter have only just been revealed, so it seems the FO can get away with hiding its spending – handy if you want to hand public cash to your mates.

So the question is:

Is Johnson scrapping the DfID so he can appropriate its money and give it to his dodgy contacts in foreign countries, in the same way he has handed billions of pounds of Covid-related cash to firms run by his cronies, who have provided nothing in response?

And, if that is even the suspicion:

Shouldn’t the plan to scrap the DfID be itself scrapped – to avoid trust in the government collapsing even more than it already has?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘can’t be trusted’ on foreign aid as millions sent to China revealed – Mirror Online

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Antique clocks stolen from Foreign Office? Why were they there in the first place?

Mystery: what were antique clocks doing hidden in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London – and who stole them?

Why are people making a fuss about antique clocks being stolen from the Foreign Office?

What were antique clocks doing at the Foreign Office in the first place?

Who stole them?

And why did the Foreign Office waste nearly a year before informing the public?

If they’re important historical artefacts, shouldn’t they be in a museum?

If not, then maybe our cash-strapped (that’s what they always say) government should try to make a couple of quid out of them – if they’re supposedly worth so much.

Perhaps that’s what somebody decided to do.

It gives This Writer cause to wonder what else HM Govt. is hiding in ministry back rooms and basements.

Perhaps it’s time for an audit of these assets, before any more of them go missing – or to find out how many already have.

More than £50,000 worth of clocks have gone missing from the Foreign Office, the Mirror can reveal.

According to newly released documents, nine antique timepieces, valued at £53,000, were “unlawfully removed” from storage in the department’s King Charles Street building in July last year.

Police were called in, but have been unable to investigate further because of “lack of leads,” the documents show.

The items are still missing, and are on the Police’s ‘stolen antiques’ list.

Source: More than £50,000 worth of antique clocks have gone missing from the Foreign Office – Mirror Online

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The Tories axed their defence against coronavirus years before it arrived. Deaths were inevitable


Not only has Boris Johnson’s response to coronavirus sparked ridicule around the world, but he is also being pilloried for failing to do anything to prepare for it.

It seems to validate criticisms that he was hoping the pandemic would simply kill off all the so-called “useless eaters” – people on benefits with illnesses or disabilities that make them vulnerable to Covid-19 – meaning that his government wouldn’t have to support them any more.

According to the Huffington Post, the Cabinet Office has been producing a National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies – a list of possible disasters that may face the UK – along with plans to deal with them.

Every such document – every single one – has listed pandemic flu as the most probable and devastating threat to the UK.

The government knew it was coming – but the strategy to deal with it was written in 2011 and is therefore many years out-of-date.

Also out of date is the government’s UK Pandemic Influenza Communications Strategy, the crucial document for getting the right messages across to the public. It was written in 2012 and is wildly inaccurate in its assumptions about how and where people now get their information.

It gets worse.  The guide to dealing with the fatalities of the pandemic, complete with supposed key named contacts, was last published in 2008.

And the dedicated government Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Team based in the Department of Health, and tasked with tackling this type of crisis, vanished around 2011.

That’s right – the Tories got rid of the organisation that would have had the expertise to deal with coronavirus, way back in the first round of austerity-driven cuts.

How short-sighted can these daft toffs be?

The Tories deliberately divested themselves of the latest evidence, policy or science.

HuffPost says this means “the government has had to either make policy up as it has gone along or is having to beg, borrow and steal from other countries who have been better prepared”.

It means that lives have almost certainly been lost unnecessarily.

And the rest of the world is well aware that Boris Johnson has been a bigger danger to the British public than the disease itself, as The Guardian has reported.

Greek newspaper Ethnos described him as “more dangerous than coronavirus”. It said: “Boris Johnson had gone out publicly and essentially asked Britons … to accept death.”

“Boris Johnson is gambling with the health of his citizens,” said the Irish Times.

The HuffPost‘s claim that Johnson had been trying to catch up because his party had rid itself of all its own useful guidance is borne out by The Guardian‘s sources:

Politicians, scientists and commentators greeted the prime minister’s U-turn on Monday night, when he ordered a UK-wide lockdown, as a belated but welcome decision to join the rest of Europe, and much of the world, in a necessary strategy.

The mystery is why it took so long.

After the prime minister’s sudden reversal, one official in Dublin expressed relief. “The Brits were doing their own thing and it looked like we were going to have to live with it. They got there in the end.”

It was a variation of an observation attributed to Winston Churchill about America doing the right thing after exhausting all other options.

Last week the prime minister made an initial concession to physical distancing – a key tactic to slow contagion – by asking people to avoid pubs. But he did not close them and many people, including his own father, Stanley, cheerily said they still planned to go out for a drink. Nevertheless, Johnson expressed confidence such limited measures were working and could “turn the tide” within 12 weeks.

Many outsiders were aghast. The pandemic was out of control in Italy and Spain, killing thousands, and surging across the globe, prompting a scramble to emulate Chinese-style lockdowns.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, reportedly threatened to close France’s border with Britain last Friday if it did not intensify measures.

Others worried about the fate of friends and relatives in Britain. Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo, the city hardest hit by Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, flew his two daughters out of the UK, deeming them safer at home.

Let that sink in.

Italy is the country hardest-hit by coronavirus, and the mayor of the Italian city that was hardest-hit flew his own children back there, because he thought they would be safer there than in the UK.

Looking at all the evidence, doesn’t he have a point?

Source: The Government Knew A Pandemic Was Coming But They Didn’t Do Anything To Prepare | HuffPost UK

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Rail fares rise by 2.7 per cent – and most of the money will go abroad

This is a Pacer train – a bus frame mounted on train wheels as a “stopgap” measure more than 30 years ago, until Northern Rail could afford to replace them. That has never happened and they remain in use today because Tory privatisation means huge amounts of our money have subsidised foreign nationalised railways rather than being invested in our own.

Are you aware that, Brexit or no, huge amounts of your money are funnelled into European Union countries – because of Tory privatisation of our national assets?

That may seem a strange way to open an article about this year’s 2.7 per cent increase in rail fares – but the point is that the extra money being extorted out of commuters will go abroad, to fund foreign rail services.

And the fact is that trains in the UK are now almost entirely state-owned – by foreign countries.

Yes, by stupidly selling off our railways into private hands, the Tories allowed them to slip into the ownership of foreign national railways.

It is to those firms that the extra money from yearly rail price increases goes.

Alternatively, perhaps you’d prefer to think of it in these terms: the same foreign rail services – owned by EU states – have creamed off seven-eighths of the subsidy that the UK government provides to privatised rail services and are using that money for themselves.

When I reported on this three years ago, that subsidy totalled £3.999 billion from the year services were privatised (1994) until 2017 – meaning foreign-owned rail systems had made £3.5 billion in profit from the UK.

Now, with far more of the network owned and run by foreign countries – and three years later – the amount of profit is likely to be far greater.

And the Conservatives running the UK absolutely love giving that money away.

They love the fact that almost all the money the Treasury has been providing to improve the service has been leeched off in profit for foreign rail services instead.

They love the fact that rail fares have shot up by nearly half since 2010, squeezing commuters’ pay packets – which are already worth less than they were in 2008 due to Tory austerity.

They have to love it – otherwise they have to admit that privatisation is a crushing failure that harms UK citizens rather than empowering them.

By contrast, rail fares in Germany have just been cut by 10 per cent.

German state-owned railway Deutsche Bahn runs around a quarter of all UK rail operating companies through its firm Arriva UK Trains.

So, if you have travelled by rail over the last few years, your money has helped make it cheaper for Germans to use their trains.

That is the result of UK rail privatisation.

The Tories are responsible for this. Still, at least the Germans know what to do with it, if only in their own country.

Source: Rail fares rise by 2.7%, hitting millions of commuters – BBC News

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Tory visa scheme will cripple social care – and the NHS will suffer knock-on harm

Charming. The Conservatives are openly announcing plans to harm services for people in need.

Tories are demanding a £30,000 salary threshold and tougher visa requirements for overseas workers once the UK has left the EU and free movement has come to an end. They also want migrants to be earning £35,800 after five years.

As care workers receive much less than £30k a year – due to Tory pay restrictions? – this means that the care sector will lose personnel.

Not only will the needs of vulnerable people go undetected, not only will people be forced to go without care, but the NHS will face knock-on effects as elderly patients are taken to A&E as a last resort, or end up stuck on wards unable to go home.

See for yourself:

Boris Johnson’s plans for fast-track “NHS visas” will do nothing to head off an impending post-Brexit staffing crisis which threatens to cripple social care in the UK, with catastrophic consequences for hospitals and other services, health chiefs have warned.

The Independent has obtained a document written by NHS Employers [that] sets out strong opposition to the Home Office’s planned points-based immigration system and new salary thresholds, pointing out many social care staff earn as little as half the proposed minimum of £30,000 per annum needed to obtain entry to the UK.

Under the scheme, the cost of a visa application for health professionals would be halved from £928 to £464 and a decision would be guaranteed within two weeks. Applicants coming to work in the NHS would receive preferential treatment with extra points under the points-based system, and no cap would be placed on numbers entering through the NHS route.

However, it makes no provision for people working in social care.

Source: NHS chiefs warn Johnson’s visa scheme will do nothing to stop post-Brexit staffing crisis | The Independent

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UK railway services are now almost entirely state-owned – by foreign countries

Could there be a better argument to support Labour’s call for train services to be re-nationalised?

British rail commuters pay the highest prices in Europe to use trains that are almost exclusively run by European state operators.

We are subsidising services in their countries.

If our railways were re-nationalised, the money we pay would flow into UK state coffers. From there it could be used to, possibly, improve the service and reduce prices.

Don’t you think that would be a better way?

With rail fares set to rise again by as much as 2.8 per cent, the debate over whether the UK should renationalise the railways – which Labour made a 2017 manifesto pledge – has already reared its head.

This week the Trades Union Congress renewed its call for renationalisation, saying doing so would lead to lower ticket prices.

“We’re already paying the highest ticket prices in Europe to travel on overcrowded and understaffed trains,” the organisation’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

[But] extensive state-ownership exists among UK rail operators, it just doesn’t involve the British state.

Here’s the full list:

c2c: Italian state

Chiltern: German state

Caledonian sleeper: PRIVATE

CrossCountry: German state

East Midlands: Dutch state

Eurostar: French state

Gatwick Express: French state

Grand Central: German state

Great Northern: French state

GWR: PRIVATE

Greater Anglia: Dutch state

Heathrow Express: PRIVATE

Hull Trains: PRIVATE

LNER: British state

London Northwestern Railway: Dutch state

London Overground: German state

London Underground: British state

Merseyrail: Dutch state

Northern: German state

Northern Ireland Railways: British state

Scotrail: Dutch state

South Western Railway: Hong Kong state

Southeastern: French state

Southern: French state

Stansted Express: Dutch state

TfL rail: Hong Kong state

Thameslink: French state

TransPennine Express: PRIVATE

Transport for Wales: French state

West Coast: Italian state

West Midlands Railway: Dutch state

Source: Trains on UK railways now almost entirely state-owned – by foreign countries | The Independent

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Brexit Party – that wants to force the UK out of the EU – could be funded by foreigners

Nigel Farage with Donald Trump: But who knows who makes donations to his Brexit Party?

What a contradiction.

The party that hates foreigners is apparently being propped up with foreign money.

It seems “dirty money” – possibly part of foreign interference in UK democracy, intended to de-stabilise the EU – could be propping up Nigel Farage’s new front.

At least, that’s what Gordon Brown thinks:

Gordon Brown has written to the Electoral Commission calling on it to urgently examine whether the party has sufficient safeguards on its website to prevent the contribution of “dirty money”.

The former Labour prime minister will use a speech in Glasgow on Monday to say an investigation into the Brexit party’s finances is urgent and essential.

“Nigel Farage says this election is about democracy. Democracy is fatally undermined if unexplained, unreported and thus undeclared and perhaps under the counter and underhand campaign finance – from whom and from where we do not know – is being used to influence the very elections that are at the heart of our democratic system,” he will say, according to pre-released extracts.

“Now Mr Farage heads a new Brexit party, which is making questionable claims about the true source of its funding at a time when the Electoral Commission has warned of the dangers of multiple, small, anonymous donations being a cover for dirty money.”

(Source: Brexit party’s funding must be investigated, says Gordon Brown | Politics | The Guardian.)

Brexit Party co-founder and chairman Richard Tice has said all donations to the party are in Sterling – but this seems to refer to its PayPal account. I have one of those and everything that comes in appears in Sterling. Not convincing.

The party’s website has no safeguards to ensure that donors are eligible to support UK political parties.

A Mirror investigation found that it was possible to sign up as a Brexit Party supporter under the name of Vladimir Putin, giving the address of the Kremlin.

Nigel Farage has also stumbled on the funding issue, being unwilling to discuss contributions from Arron Banks as anything other than a “purely private matter”.

Of course, being tight-lipped is probably a good idea for Mr Farage – just consider the Independent‘s list of his racist and sexist comments in the run-up to the EU referendum in 2016.

Among many abhorrent words, he made racial slurs against Romanians and Chinese people, and said the gender pay gap exists because women are “worth less”.

And the polls say the Brexit Party is favourite to win the most seats in the European Parliament.

Really?

Take a look at yourself, Britain. Are you really a racist, sexist, xenophobic and bigoted country? That’s how your next-door-neighbour – physically and internationally – will see you if you vote for the Brexit Party and Farage.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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