Tag Archives: global

Now the Tories have given £240 million to a firm linked to religious extremists for PPE

It’s only money: Boris Johnson has no problems with handing over fistfuls of our cash to rich religious extremists. His problem is using it to help poor people. And were the contracts even honoured?

After all the criticism for awarding major contracts to firms run by their friends, you’d expect the Tories would have gone back to competitive tendering for their biggest PPE contract.

Not a bit of it!

Instead, they gave nearly a quarter of a billion pounds – for the supply of full-body overalls – to a firm founded and run by leading members of a hardline, conservative religious sect which preaches that the outside world is morally corrupting, according to Byline Times.

Unispace Global Health was also awarded a £103.7 million contract for the supply of examination gloves. Among the contracts so far revealed by the Tory government, these two represent the largest amount of taxpayer cash handed to a single firm for the supply of PPE during the Covid-19 crisis.

One of the firm’s bosses is linked to the world leader of the Exclusive Brethren, a subset of the Plymouth Brethren, who avoid contact with non-Brethren as much as possible, because the outside world is morally corrupting.

Apparently their ideology finds a way to allow commerce with the “morally corrupting” outside world, though.

Perhaps the Tories agree with their worldview. After all, “morally corrupt” seems an apt description of their procurement strategy.

And, was the contract even honoured? I seem to recall a lot of concern over the lack of PPE during April and May, when these contracts were awarded.

Source: Government Awards £240 Million PPE Deal to Firm Linked to Religious Sect – Byline Times

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UK plummets from 11th to 156th in global children’s rights rankings. The Tories are responsible

Tories harm children and they harm the rights of children. Your kids aren’t safe under Tory rule.

If you know anyone who voted Tory last month – or who didn’t vote at all, tell them: well done.

Be as sarcastic as you like.

Tell them that, under the Tories, the UK has become one of the worst-performing countries in the entire world in the matter of improving children’s rights.

Tell them that, thanks to their vote – or lack of it, the UK’s government will continue to fail younger generations.

And tell them that discrimination against children on racial or religious grounds has been incorporated into the structure of UK society under the Conservatives.

Ask them whether they consider themselves to be racists and, if not, why they support a racist administration.

And if they say they don’t, remind them that prime minister Boris Johnson is a known racist.

Point them to the anti-Semitism in his novel if they want proof beyond his Islamophobic comments and other recent outbursts.

The UK has been accused of employing “inadequate” provision for children’s rights protection after it fell dramatically in global rankings for child rights within a year, from 11th to 156th.

Serious concerns have been raised about structural discrimination in the UK, including Muslim children facing increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures, and a rise in discrimination against gypsy and refugee children in recent years.

The UK now ranks among the bottom 10 global performers in the arena of improving rights of the child, after it achieved the lowest-possible score across all six available indicators in the domain of Child Rights Environment (CRE), according to the KidsRights Index 2017.

Portugal is this year’s global frontrunner.

Source: UK plummets from 11th to 156th in global children’s rights rankings | The Independent

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McDonnell says government hosting disability summit is ‘height of hypocrisy’

John McDonnell.

After six years of campaigning for people with disabilities in the UK, This Writer would agree with everything John McDonnell has to say.

Personally, I heard absolutely nothing about the Tory government-hosted disability summit while it was taking place last week.

I can only conclude that even the Tory-poodle national news media recognised it for the sham that it is – and ignored it.

Labour’s shadow chancellor has described the UK government’s decision to co-host a Global Disability Summit – less than a year after its record on disability rights was dismantled by the United Nations – as “the height of hypocrisy”.

John McDonnell, a long-standing supporter of the disabled people’s anti-cuts movement, said the government’s summit was an attempt to show that they were world leaders in disability rights “when they are clearly not”, but also “trying to argue that they could somehow influence or teach other countries how to treat fairly and equally disabled people”, which was “just outrageous.”

McDonnell (pictured, outside the summit) said disabled people and their allies had worked hard to ensure that the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities had “the fullest information to be able to assess the government’s performance on its policies towards disabled people”.

The result was “an outright condemnation of the role that the government has played”.

He added: “It was the height of hypocrisy then for them to host this event.”

He said the summit could have been so much more successful if there had been an “honest discussion about what’s happened to disabled people across the globe but also learning the lessons of what’s gone wrong in this country, and the lessons of what’s gone wrong are that disabled people have born the brunt of austerity”.

Source: Global Disability Summit: McDonnell says government hosting summit is ‘height of hypocrisy’

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Global temperatures rise yet again as experts prepare for meeting on climate change

2016 has seen high temperatures lead to devastating droughts in many parts [Image: Getty Images].

2016 has seen high temperatures lead to devastating droughts in many parts [Image: Getty Images].

We’ve had droughts, temperature increases 6-7 degrees above average in Arctic Russia, a huge amount of melted sea ice, heatwaves, flooding, and an increase in “once-in-a-lifetime” extraordinary weather events.

Greenhouse gases are filling the atmosphere.

And the United States have voted in a president-elect who doesn’t believe in climate change.

At least China has seen the light and is investing heavily in renewables.

This Writer knows another country that had a renewables programme – until a gang of political bandits got into office on a “vote blue, get green” tag and cut it to ribbons.

Now, where do you think that was?

2016 looks poised to be the warmest year on record globally, according to preliminary data.

With data from just the first nine months, scientists are 90% certain that 2016 will pass the mark set by 2015.

The provisional statement on the status of the global climate in 2016 has been released early this year to help inform negotiators meeting in Morocco, who are trying to push forward with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Temperatures from January to September were 1.2C above pre-industrial levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The body says temperatures should remain high enough for the rest of the year to break the previous record.

[The] El Nino [weather phenomenon] has had an impact, but the most significant factor driving temperatures up continues to be CO2 emissions.

Source: 2016 ‘very likely’ to be world’s warmest year – BBC News

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If banks want regulation costs cut, they should be more trustworthy

With people like this in charge of banks - and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what's right for UK citizens?

With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens?

Banks and other financial organisations want the Conservative government to slash the cost of complying with new regulations, according to the Confederation of British Industry. Doesn’t your heart just bleed for them?

Thse are the organisations that sucked the UK into the global financial crisis and allowed the Conservatives to form a government after the 2010 election (they didn’t win it) with a false claim that Labour overspent.

Now they want the regulations that prevent them from causing another crisis to be eased.

Considering the banks’ record, it would be madness to do so. Let’s see how long it takes the Tories to comply.

According to The Guardian, “As the City recovers from the financial crisis, companies are lobbying for an end to criticism of the banking industry and an easing of rules designed to prevent another crisis.

“They argue the sector is a big employer and that the City’s position as a financial centre is important for the UK’s economy.”

Finance is indeed a big employer, here in the UK – but only because Conservative-led governments since 2010 have utterly failed to build up any other industry while continuing to pander to the banks.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer has been supporting banks heavily, with 4.21 per cent of government spending – that’s £41 billion per year – being supplied to these very profitable institutions for no very good reason.

And they’re complaining about the cost of regulations!

It gets better. The regulations against which they are complaining include:

  • The ring-fence required by 2019 to separate retail and investment banking, so that bad investments cannot affect the safety of depositors’ money.
  • The introduction of criminal liability for senior executives whose reckless behaviour causes their company to fail.

That’s right – bank bosses are angry that the government is actually trying to stop them from penalising ordinary account holders for their gambling losses, and upset that they might have to pay a debt to society if their decisions harm the viability of their firms.

Clearly these bankers have not learned their lesson and want to inflict further debt upon the taxpayer while making off like the bandits they are.

According to The Guardian, “HSBC has taken the lead for the banks by threatening to leave the UK if it decides the cost of remaining is too great. Britain’s biggest bank listed ringfencing and the [bank] levy, which HSBC says affects it disproportionately, as important considerations.”

This is the bank that, earlier this year, was implicated in one of the biggest organised tax avoidance schemes to be uncovered in the UK in recent times.

It is important to note that the survey was compiled with accounting firm PwC, which has been singled out by HM Revenue and Customs as having created hugely lucrative schemes to help companies and the hugely wealthy to avoid paying their taxes.

Shouldn’t the government’s response be: “F*** off, then – but pay your back taxes first”?

The last thing the government should do is give in to these demands, and taxpayers across the country should write in to George Osborne, warning him against any such move.

There is no reason to trust the banks with any more responsibility than the bare minimum. They simply haven’t earned our trust back yet.

If the banks want more freedom, they should be told to bloody well earn it.

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Labour’s next leader must challenge Tories’ poisonous myths

Here’s Kevin Maguire, writing in the Daily Mirror:

Labour’s next leader will become trapped in a maze of Tory lies unless he or she challenges a string of poisonous myths.

I badgered Ed Miliband for years in this column to prove spending by the last Labour Government didn’t trigger the 2008 global financial collapse.

The national debt was a smaller proportion of GDP before the banking crisis than Labour had inherited from the Conservatives in 1997.

Failing to regulate the spivs and speculators was the catastrophic error, not reviving the NHS or putting money into workers’ pay packets.

Economists knew it, the Bank of England governor knew it and so too did David Cameron and George Osborne – but the Tory duo ­cynically pinned the blame for the crisis on Labour’s spending plans.

The problem is, of course, that many of the politicians who now claim to represent Labour values are quite happy to let this Tory lie go unchallenged.

Those of us who know the facts have been telling everybody we can for the last five years and more, but we simply don’t have the mass media clout needed to get the message across.

People like the right-wing Labour leadership candidates (everyone apart from Jeremy Corbyn) and Harriet Harman can’t be bothered to correct a ‘big lie’ that has been repeated so often that people now believe it automatically.

They’ve got their Parliamentary seats and pensions; they’re doing quite all right out of all this, thank you very much.

Maguire makes some more useful points, which are well worth repeating, if you have ignorant friends:

The whole welfare debate is skewed when we wrongly think £24 in every £100 of the social security budget is fiddled. In reality, it’s just 70p.

The Department of Work and Pensions pumps out these tales to justify deep cuts. The £1.2 billion a year benefit fraud is pennies next to a great tax robbery soaring to as high as £120 billion.

Yet the Treasury and HMRC prefer cosy private deals with wealthy dodgers while what crooked US socialite Leona Helmsley referred to as the “little people” are thrown to the hounds.

And how about this:

It isn’t just the economic debate that’s distorted by myths. Immigrants pay in more than they take off the system.

Only reactionaries and racists benefit when it’s thought 24% of the population are recent migrants when it’s 13%.

Standing up for decent values requires politicians to tell hard truths and never pander to prejudices.

That’s not going to happen in a Labour Party led by Burnham, Cooper, Creagh or Kendall, then.

Source: Labour’s next leader must learn from Ed Miliband’s mistakes and challenge Tories’ poisonous myths – Kevin Maguire – Mirror Online

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‘The SNP’s Tory-LibDem second term’

Big Mouth strikes: Stewart Hosie was desperate to wrongly lay blame for the economic crisis on Labour. Now he's being told that every vote for the SNP could help enable a Conservative-Liberal Democrat second term.

Big Mouth strikes: Stewart Hosie was desperate to wrongly lay blame for the economic crisis on Labour. Now he’s being told that every vote for the SNP could help enable a Conservative-Liberal Democrat second term.

SNP mouthpiece Stewart Hosie should have known better than to try to score political points with information from Oxford’s Professor of Macroeconomics.

After Professor Simon Wren-Lewis (author of the Mainly Macro blog) confirmed to The Conversation that Nicola Sturgeon’s claims about austerity* were correct, “with no qualifications” (meaning he would not correct her on any aspect of it), Hosie spouted the following in a press release:

“Professor Wren-Lewis reflects what many other experts and indeed members of the public know all too well – that Tory/Lib Dem austerity has done deep harm to the country’s recovery from the Labour recession.” [Italics mine]

Here’s the response from Prof Wren-Lewis (bolding mine):

“Oh dear – ‘the Labour recession’. That would be the global financial crisis that originated with US subprime mortgages! Calling this the Labour recession is just stupid, and is something I would never say. It is very unfortunate (and I hope it is just a misfortune) that Stewart Hosie appeared to suggest that I had said or implied that. Whatever the intention, it indicates that at least some in the SNP are still in the business of making highly misleading statements to advance their cause.

“While on the subject of the SNP and this election, let me make one final point, just in case any prospective SNP voters read this. In the quite likely event that the Conservatives get more seats than Labour, but less seats than Labour and the SNP combined, in a situation where either side would need LibDem support Nick Clegg has made it clear he will talk to the Conservatives first. That will almost certainly lead to the current coalition government continuing. Clegg’s reasoning for doing this makes little sense, but the SNP cannot influence Clegg’s decision, and I suspect nor can his party even if they were minded to.

“If that comes to pass, then every vote for the SNP rather than Labour that loses Labour seats becomes a vote to continue with the current government. That is not an opinion, but a factual statement. So, to be consistent with his own logic, I think Stewart Hosie would have to call this election result the SNP’s Tory-LibDem second term.”

If we’re honest, this means Nicola Sturgeon really does need to ask England and Wales not to vote Tory, as this blog stated a few days ago.

Any questions (or indeed squeals from the SNP cultists in our readership)?

*She had said: “In the last five years, austerity has undermined our public services, lowered the living standards of working people, pushed more children into poverty and held back economic growth.”

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The recession would have been worse if the Conservatives had been in power

150406mervynkingonrecession

‘Killing Britain’s interpretation of Mervyn King’s comment on the recession.

… That’s the opinion of Simon Wren-Lewis, writer of the Mainly Macro blog.

It’s his response to the oft-asserted claim that Labour crashed the economy; he can’t deny it altogether because Labour’s failure to regulate the banks does make it partly true, in his eyes (we’ll skate over the fact that the banks had a certain responsibility in that area themselves. Now we know they’ll never behave responsibly it makes the future a little easier to navigate – or at least, it should).

Professor Wren-Lewis writes: “That is I guess why Ed Miliband seemed to respond to this accusation by saying something like: “yes we did get financial regulation wrong, but …”. That may be an honest reply, but it is not very effective, because many will read it as admitting Labour caused the recession.

“A better reply would be: “Everyone knows that the recession was caused by the global financial crisis and insufficient regulation, but the recession would have been worse if the Conservatives had been in power.”

“As Mervyn King says, “the real problem was a shared intellectual view right across the entire political spectrum and shared across the financial markets that things were going pretty well”, a view which he of course shared.

“I think the claim that the recession would have been worse if the Conservatives had been in government can be justified on two grounds. First, the Conservatives did accuse Labour of too much financial regulation, not too little. Second, they were against Labour’s fiscal stimulus in 2009.”

Why is it important that Labour combat this charge effectively? “When it comes to a contest of macroeconomic competence between the last Labour government and the current coalition, Labour wins hands down.”

The reason? “The coalition made such a bad mistake with austerity… Losing the equivalent of at least £4,000 per household is a big deal.

“Even if we were prepared to forgive this as a genuine mistake, to plan to make exactly the same mistake again either suggests a complete inability to learn, complete incompetence, or a duplicitous pursuit of ideology over social welfare.”

Read the full article on Mainly Macro. It is plainly written and even shows how you can measure up the Coalition’s performance against Labour’s for yourself.

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Cameron’s global crash warning: He’ll do nothing about it

"Our long-term economic plan is working!" says Cameron - and the debt keeps rising.

“Our long-term economic plan is working!” says Cameron – and the debt keeps rising.

It’s more accurate to say he’ll do nothing right.

David Cameron is warning that another global financial crash is on the way. It’s an accurate warning – others have been forecasting it for a while but, seeing him saying it, didn’t you ask yourself who he’ll be blaming this time?

It can’t be Labour’s fault – Labour has been out of office for a few years and besides, Labour policies were sorting out the fallout left by the last right-wing-precipitated global financial catastrophe until the Tories lied their way into office and then twiddled their thumbs for four long years.

He reckons emerging markets that sustained the recovery (what recovery?) are slowing down but the British economy is growing and needs to be insulated from any crash. He says employment is up massively and new businesses are proliferating – but if you scratch the surface of that claim you’ll see that the number of hours worked is no higher than in 2010 and new businesses are being ‘run’ by people who are claiming tax credits as self-employed because then they won’t be hassled by the DWP while claiming JSA. There are new businesses, of course, but not nearly as many as Cameron wants you to believe.

Cameron’s article in The Guardian, if read properly, is comedy. It certainly isn’t to be taken seriously.

“When we faced similar problems in recent years, too many politicians offered easy answers, thinking we could spend, borrow and tax our way to prosperity,” he writes. Which politicians? Gordon Brown is the only Chancellor in recent history to manage a surplus, rather than a deficit; his policies brought the UK unexpected prosperity (which, unfortunately, led to the EU surcharge that has so badly embarrassed George Osborne); and his successor Alistair Darling introduced policies that knocked £38 billion off the deficit created by the right-wing bankers’ gambling binge.

Cameron must be referring to Conservative politicians in his own government.

Yes, look, here’s a bit where he writes: “It is more important than ever that we send a clear message to the world that Britain is not going to waver on dealing with its debts.” He could have cut that sentence down to read: “Britain is not dealing with its debts.” The national debt has more than doubled since the Conservatives started running the economy – from around £800 billion to £1.8 trillion by 2015, meaning George Osborne’s pitiful attempts to tackle the national deficit by cutting public services and selling off the country’s assets have achieved less than nothing.

“This stability is vital in attracting the business and international investment that delivers growth and jobs, and which keeps long-term interest rates low.” You couldn’t make this up. Interest rates are low because lenders know the UK has its own sovereign currency and will always be able to pay its debts, one way or another, even if it means printing more money (quantitative easing, anyone?) – remember when the UK’s triple-A credit rating went downriver despite all Osborne’s efforts to keep it? He claimed this meant the cost of borrowing would leap, but the effect has gone unnoticed.

There’s a lot more waffle and you can read it on The Guardian‘s site. It’s amazing a paper of its standing bothered to publish it.

For a more informed opinion, let’s go to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK, pausing for a moment to wish him well in his recovery from recent surgery.

“His focus is instead on highlighting problems in Europe and on signing TTIP – the trade treaty that will require the privatisation of the NHS whatever he says now,” writes Mr Murphy – possibly from the recovery ward.

“This is a man who can see a crisis coming and who must know that his austerity programme can only make it worse (anyone but a fool can see taking money out of a failing economy, as he plans to do,  is bound to make it worse) but who is resolutely refusing to recognise the issues that will cause this next wave of economic collapse.

The wrong people have the money… The people who spend least of their incomes have had the biggest pay rises and are the only ones to enjoy effective tax decreases over the last few years. These people are the highest income earners in the UK.

“At the same time, cutting benefits for the poorest and increasing VAT (which together with deliberately enforced wage cuts have reduced the net disposable income of most people) and cutting taxes for the wealthiest, this has been the inevitable outcome. And we know this outcome has not happened by chance: this is deliberate.

“When there’s a shortage of spending in the economy to let the wealthiest get wealthier, [it] simply means that the imbalances within it get worse. And it’s imbalances that cause crises.

“Corporation tax cuts and reforms to our corporation tax system that means that multinational corporations based in the UK can, since 2010, find it much easier to make effective use of tax havens to cut their UK tax bills have also made the problem worse. I reckon these cuts are costing at least £10 billion a year. What these cuts do is transfer money that would have belonged to the state to companies in the hope that they will be encouraged to invest it as a result. But they aren’t doing any such thing.

“Companies are taking the tax cuts and banking them. They aren’t even giving them back to their owners. They’re just hoarding it. Like the wealthy (perhaps, unsurprisingly) large companies are simply sitting on their cash.

The tax gap is another indication of this. What really belongs to the government is in the hands of crooks and cheats, with massive economic consequences.

“What can be done? I’ve always pointed out that there are only four drivers of the economy: consumer spending, investment, net foreign flows and government spending.

  • “Investment is not happening; business will not do it: that’s why they havecash.
  • “Net foreign flows are broadly neutral: the trade deficit is dire but hot money still comes to the UK, although we cannot rely on that.
  • “Consumer spending is poor and may get worse: most people do not have the money.
  • “And that leaves the government to put matters right. It has to generate new economic activity.”

Mr Murphy proposes more quantitative easing – printing money and then investing it in a new, sustainable infrastructive (not the kind that Cameron is pushing); rebalancing tax by increasing taxes for those who can pay; and closing the tax gap.

You won’t see any of those under a Conservative government!

Get ready to batten down the hatches for another round of financial catastrophe, and this time, be prepared to put the blame where it really belongs – on Conservative politicians whose supposed reputation for financial competence is a myth and who should never have been allowed near the national economy.

And remember where the blame lies when you vote next May.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Does Cameron really think Scotland will stay in the UK because he wants it?

Why Cameron is on a hiding to nothing: Many Scottish people have not forgotten how British governments have mistreated them. [Image: Ceasefire Magazine]

Why Cameron is on a hiding to nothing: Many Scottish people have not forgotten how British governments have mistreated them. [Image: Ceasefire Magazine]

David Cameron gave a speech today in which he made an impassioned plea for Scottish people to vote for staying in the United Kingdom – and if any of them needed an excuse to do the exact opposite, there it is.

He made his comments from the Olympic Park in London – which says everything you need to know about his relationship with Scotland. Was he afraid of the jeers if he travelled up to Edinburgh?

“I passionately believe it is in their interests to stay in the UK – that way Scotland has the space to take decisions while still having the security that comes with being part of something bigger,” Cameron wittered. But he has been shrinking the state. The UK as a whole is much smaller – economically and philosophically – than it was four years ago and that’s his fault.

“In the UK, Scotland is part of a major global player,” he burbled. But the rest of the world now looks down on the UK because of his unstatesmanlike behaviour when dealing with foreign powers. He has diminished the UK in the international community and the Scottish people are well able to see that.

Appealing for those of us in the other UK countries – England, Wales and NI – to apply emotional blackmail on our friends in Scotland, he gibbered: “From us to the people of Scotland, let the message be this: We want you to stay.”

Cameron must think we all have memories so short we could qualify as brain-damaged. Conservatives have historically used Scotland as the testing ground for every rotten little policy they wanted to try out – remember the Poll Tax? – because of no special quality other than the fact that there are no Conservative MPs there.

I don’t want Scotland to vote for independence because I think Scottish people have contributed hugely towards the culture shared by everybody living on the British Isles – it is possible they have added more to our society than the English who dominate our political lives.

In return, they have been treated abominably – most particularly by English Conservatives – and that is why I can’t see Scotland staying in the Union while an English Conservative is in charge in Westminster.

If Scotland does go, you should all know what will happen next: Wales will become the testing ground for rubbish Tory policies. They won’t try it on Northern Ireland because that province’s history tells them exactly what they’d get in return – and if that isn’t a good enough reason for the Welsh people to go feral and start causing havoc, I don’t know what is!

So well done, David – you have considerably worsened our chances of remaining united.

My only hope is that, if Scotland does secede from the union, its leaders keep the door open, so that there always remains the possibility of some form of reunification on terms that strengthen both countries – when (or if) a reasonable government is returned to office in the UK.

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