Tag Archives: government

Banning UK citizens from protesting against Israel’s government is anti-democratic. Here’s why

Anti-Semitism? The Tory government’s plan to ban public bodies from taking part in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against a murderous foreign apartheid regime will be painted as a crusade against anti-Semitism. But it is one that will lack accurate evidence.

One of the (many) planned laws in Boris Johnson’s new legislative programme is one said to “prevent public bodies from adopting their own approach to international relations” by adopting ethical positions against foreign human rights abusers with boycotts of their exports.

It is widely understood that Johnson’s aim is to protect the government of Israel from the growing BDS movement, which seeks to end that country’s apartheid regime in Palestine.

This is – of course – hugely undemocratic. Local authorities and the devolved governments are elected by the UK’s voters and should be allowed to procure goods and services as they see fit, including according to a higher standard of ethics than that of the national UK government itself.

In essence, it seems the legislation is intended to smear those who refuse to tolerate the Israeli persecution of Palestine as anti-Semites. For some of us, it’s a familiar tactic.

Many people, including This Writer, have already been smeared as anti-Semites for opposing the harmful – indeed, homicidal – activities of a national government that presents itself as representing an entire ethnic group (it doesn’t; many Jews around the world are repulsed by the way Palestine is being treated).

Perversely, it is anti-racism campaigners who are being branded as anti-Semites – a brand that the UK’s own government intends to burn into local authorities, devolved governments and other public bodies if they insist on acting against the persecution of Palestine.

You can find out more about what has already happened – and help fight what is happening now – by visiting the website of a relatively new organisation whose title states exactly what it is about: the Campaign Against Bogus Antisemitism.

The organisation’s website states: “It is deeply hurtful to anti-racist campaigners to be branded as antisemitic. People are broken by the embarrassment and shame of attacks they suffer in the media, there for friends, family and other campaigning bodies to see – as if it were the truth… CABA aims to help set the record straight.

“We are a volunteer-led group dedicated to exposing and countering bogus antisemitism- through education and championing those unjustly accused.

“We are building a network of activists across UK, Palestine and further afield, working in a concerted manner, campaigning to allow us to decry apartheid in Israel without being branded ‘anti-Semites’.”

There’s a lot of information on the CABA site – This Writer hasn’t been able to read all of it, and I’m sure that much of it will be disputed by those with an interest in doing so.

But the intention seems an honest one – which is more than the Tory government can offer with its pro-racist, pro-apartheid planned law.

Give it a look and judge for yourself. You may learn a lot.

Source: About Us- and Joining – Campaign Against BOGUS Antisemitism

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Tory Britain: we can’t afford to eat every day and we’re setting fire to our homes, trying to keep warm

Secret smile: Boris Johnson probably thinks it is very funny that his policies have made more than two million people unable to afford to eat every day, and that some people have set fire to their homes while trying to heat them by burning timber indoors.

You may wish to bookmark this article so you can send it to anyone who tries to tell you voting Conservative is a good idea.

Because more than 12 years of Conservative government has laid the once-great United Kingdom lower than it has been in decades – possibly more than a century.

More than two million people – one in every seven adults – can no longer afford to eat food every day:

More than 2 million adults in the UK have gone without food for a whole day over the past month because they cannot afford to eat

The latest survey of the nation’s food intake shows a 57% jump in the proportion of households cutting back on food or skipping meals over the first three months of this year, with one in seven adults (7.3 million) estimated to be food-insecure, up from 4.7 million in January.

And fire brigades are now overworked dealing with blazes in houses where people started burning timber in open fires because they could not afford the cost of central heating any more:

A man in south-west London set fire to his property by burning timber in his living room to keep warm.

The man was trying to avoid putting on the central heating in his home, fire investigators said.

Fuel poverty campaigners said the incident – one of at least 100 involving open fires, log burners and heaters in the capital in the last few months – laid bare “the harsh and dangerous reality of the cost-of-living crisis”.

Some might say that they don’t care; these incidents involve other people. It’s very easy to throw shade on others by saying they are unable to keep their finances in order.

But the Tory cost-of-living crisis affects us all.

Food costs more because of Brexit-related supply issues; housing costs more because the banks have increased interest rates, meaning mortgages and rents are going up; heating costs more because of the shortage of gas created last winter and accelerated by the Russia-Ukraine war; we are paying more tax to the Tory government than any UK population in more than 40 years.

Only people who are extremely rich can afford to blame others for being unable to stay warm or feed themselves in these circumstances. If you’re on a normal wage, you’ll feel the pinch soon enough.

And it’s all due to Conservative economic incompetence – sold to you with a lie that they knew what they were doing.

Or was it a lie? How much worse would you find it if this enforced starvation and these house fires were intended to happen by Boris Johnson and his party?

Source: More than 2m adults in UK cannot afford to eat every day, survey finds | Food poverty | The Guardian

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Beergate: Starmer fuels ‘running scared’ gossip by pulling out of keynote speech

Keir Starmer: we like to use this image when it seems he has made another mistake. And who can say we’re wrong this time?

Aides of Labour’s right-wing leader are scrabbling to cover for him after he pulled out of a major speech ahead of the State Opening of Parliament.

Starmer had been due to make a speech and take questions at an event on “challenges the country faces” organised by the Institute for Government think tank, but pulled out without explanation after Durham Police announced it would re-investigate the alleged Beergate affair.

This alleges that Starmer attended an event in Durham in April last year, when he drank beer and ate a curry with colleagues. At the time, Covid-19 social distancing rules meant it was illegal for people in England to socialise indoors with people from outside their household or support bubble, although there was an exemption for “work purposes”

Starmer had claimed that it was a work event, and food and drink had been consumed in between doing work – but the police investigation was reopened after a leaked memo obtained by the Mail of Sunday revealed it was in fact pre-planned, with time scheduled for “dinner” after which the event would conclude.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting tried to dismiss the matter when he was challenged over it on BBC Breakfast: “I have no idea why he cancelled the event and I certainly didn’t ask before I came on because I think it’s such a trivial issue.

“The idea that Keir is somehow ducking scrutiny is simply not true.”

Shadow “levelling-up”, housing and communities secretary Lisa Nandy fared a little better when she said, “It is frankly absurd of the Tories to claim that this in any way equates to a prime minister who was under investigation by the police for 12 separate gatherings which included karaoke parties, bring your own bottle parties, pub quizzes, suitcases full of wine being smuggled through the back door.”

But then she ruined it by adding, “This is a guy who self-isolated six times during the pandemic.” That’s not altogether vindicating as some of us suggested he was running away from scrutiny some of those times as well.

And Labour is not united on this matter; the issue has re-awakened splits between factions on the left and right of the party.

Diane Abbott said yesterday Starmer would have to “consider his position” if police hand him a fine.

Emily Ferguson in the I newspaper said this could be the least of Starmer’s troubles:

Even if police decide not to issue him a fine, officers could still brand the event as a minor breach of rules – as they did with former No 10 aide Dominic Cummings’ infamous Barnard Castle trip.

Such a scenario would leave Sir Keir in limbo and vulnerable to a coup from Labour MPs unhappy that he may have jeopardised the party’s hopes of returning to government.

The allegation and incriminating photo will linger in voters’ minds. In the eyes of the public his image is tainted and for some, Sir Keir can no longer hold the moral high ground of being the Opposition leader who fiercely followed Covid rules throughout.

[Starmer] has his work cut out over the next few months as he will need to keep a lid on internal disputes and prevent the fractious divides within Labour from re-emerging, convince voters he is capable of leading the country, all whilst holding the Government to account on the cost-of-living crisis.

On the basis of today’s (non-)performance, he’s not going to manage it.

People will see his withdrawal from a major event – without explanation – as exactly what it is:

Running away.

Source: Sir Keir Starmer pulls out of keynote speech as pressure mounts over beergate

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After the elections: should both Boris Johnson AND Keir Starmer lose their jobs?

All in it together: neither Boris Johnson nor Keir Starmer fared well in the local government elections, and both may have broken Covid-19 lockdown laws. So it may be appropriate for both their jobs to be in danger.

There’s no doubt about it: the local elections have been a disaster for the Conservatives – and far from a victory for the Labour Party.

The Tories have lost 490 council seats in England, Wales and Scotland, with blame being placed squarely on the shoulders of Boris Johnson for his Partygate scandal and his failure to keep the cost of living within reasonable levels.

Conservative MPs are certain to be discussing whether Johnson has a future as prime minister over the next few days, before starting to make decisions about it after the new Parliamentary session begins.

They will also discuss the policy direction of Johnson’s government, with Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh quoted by the BBC as saying, “I do think radical change in the policy is required and, if it doesn’t happen, there really isn’t an electoral future for the party, because I think it will get crucified at the next election having bombed the economy.

“And if the team [running the government] is not able to adapt to reality, then the team needs to make way for someone else.”

But Labour – or at least Keir Starmer’s side of it – is in an equally precarious situation after voters gave a lukewarm response to his offer.

His party made some gains in London – and crowed about taking over Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet councils from the Tories – but lost Harrow council to the Tories, while the mayoralties of Croydon and Tower Hamlets also went to a Tory and to Lutfur Rahman and his Aspire organisation respectively.

Labour gains outside London were hardly worth mentioning. It took the new Cumberland unitary authority, and Southampton – but failed to take authorities where it had been expected to make gains, including Hartlepool, Peterborough, Redditch and Ipswich.

While the Tories have lost support in the south of England, Labour lost more in the north. It seems to have drained from both parties to the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

Of all Labour’s net gains – 137 seats, 65 of them were in Wales where the party is led by “continuity Corbyn” First Minister Mark Drakeford. The contrast is made more clear if we compare Labour’s gains with those of the Greens.

In England, Labour gained 52 seats while the Greens gained 60.

In Scotland, Labour won 20 seats with the Greens close behind on 16.

But in Wales, Labour was boosted by 65 seats, while the Greens could only muster up an extra eight.

The message is clear: the voting public doesn’t want Starmer’s tepid Tory policies; we want a genuine alternative to the Conservative nightmare that has engulfed the UK for more than 12 years, and we won’t be told his party of empty suits is the only alternative.

Indeed, as Skwawkbox quoted a left-winger in Harrow: “Despite expelling their best activists, despite purging all the left who wanted to stand despite disenfranchising in a most brutal persistent fashion, [Labour has] shown a talent for catastrophe with all [its] handpicked candidates.”

But you won’t hear that from Starmer himself! He’s living in a fantasy England where Labour is on the crest of a wave: “From the depths in 2019 we are back on track now for the general election, showing what the change that we’ve done, the hard change that we’ve done in the last two years, what a difference it has made.”

He actually claimed the results marked a “massive turning-point for the Labour Party”.

So perhaps it is just as well that he is about to have his attention occupied by a police investigation into whether he broke the law by having a beer in a Labour MP’s office during Covid-19 lockdown.

Durham Police had said it would not re-open an investigation into the incident in April last year, when Starmer was taking part in an online event ahead of a by-election in neighbouring Hartlepool.

But immediately after the local elections took place, the service changed its story, saying it had received “significant new information” but had delayed an announcement until after the vote.

If the finding is that the Labour leader did break the law, he will face calls from Tory MPs demanding that he resign. Sauce for the goose; he has demanded Boris Johnson’s resignation after the prime minister was fined for the same offence, after all. And if Starmer is fined, both leaders will be said to have lied about it.

But there is a significant difference between them: Johnson drew up the rules by which he demanded the rest of us should live, and it was on his behalf that police forces across the UK enforced those rules. He then deliberately broke those rules. And then he lied about having broken them to Parliament, which is an offence for which an MP may be expelled.

Starmer may have merely broken the rules while believing he was following them.

Ultimately, the difference may be irrelevant; Starmer has failed to win convincingly in a midterm election and is therefore unlikely to win a general election, so his party’s “grey suits” may use the so-called “BeerGate” affair as an excuse to remove him.

Either way, it seems clear that neither the Tory nor Labour leader should feel secure in their jobs.

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What’s the big secret about how Lebedev became a Lord? What did Johnson do?

Buddies: Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev. What public interest issues could possibly justify delaying whether the liar on the left interfered to put the son-of-a-Russian-spy on the right into the House of Lords?

It seems the Conservative government has found yet another piece of important information about Boris Johnson that it wants to hide. That’s right: Boris Johnson.

It concerns the way Johnson’s close friend, the Russian son-of-a-spy Evgeny Lebedev, was ennobled (given a place in the House of Lords).

Parliament voted to instruct the government that it must provide all information on how this happened, by April 28.

But the government has ignored this instruction from the UK’s sovereign institution.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Ellis has argued that he could not give out information where it was “not in the public interest to do so” and the government would need more time to deal with “all the necessary considerations”.

Funny, that. The instruction was given at the end of March so ministers have had a month to sort out any public interest issues. That’s plenty of time.

Also, we all know that the substantive issue is whether Boris Johnson interfered to override concerns about Lebedev by the security services. There’s absolutely no public interest issue around that.

In fact, it seems to This Writer that “Save Big Dog” is the only issue here.

Let’s recap the situation, from This Site’s previous article:

The Guardian revealed back in 2020 that Boris Johnson overruled concerns voiced by the security services in order to give Lebedev a peerage:

Two days before Johnson met Lebedev in March [he did this on March 19, right after telling us all to stay in our homes because of Covid-19, so this happened on March 17], the House of Lords appointments commission (Holac), which scrutinises all nominations, wrote to the prime minister. It is understood to have expressed concerns about Lebedev’s proposed peerage and asked Downing Street to reconsider.

The commission, made up of cross-party peers, carries out “propriety checks” on candidates. It does not have the power of veto. But it can suggest that a party come up with an alternative, which is what is understood to have happened in Lebedev’s case.

Peers were apparently alarmed following a confidential briefing from the UK security services. They told the commission Lebedev was viewed as a potential security risk because of his father, Alexander Lebedev, a one-time Moscow spy. During the late cold war period, Lebedev Sr worked undercover at the Soviet embassy in London. His real employer was KGB foreign intelligence.

Johnson ignored the concerns and Lebedev became a Lord.

Labour leader Keir Starmer called for Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to review all the reports on Lord Lebedev that Holac saw, after Russians in the UK came under suspicion in the wake of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Lebedev himself has supported publication of the material, saying, “I have nothing to hide.”

But Downing Street insisted that “all peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission” – an assertion that failed to acknowledge that Holac can’t veto an appointment, which always remains within the gift of the prime minister.

And Johnson himself has denied overruling the concerns expressed by the security services.

If the documents are published and show that Johnson did indeed ignore concerns raised by the security services, then he has lied in his capacity as prime minister. If he uttered those words in Parliament, then he will have broken the Ministerial Code and his resignation will be required.

And the irony is that any security risk posed by Lebedev is tiny in any case – because Lords are not shown “classified” documents.

It seems clear that the Tory government is hiding something, and it seems clear that the only thing they have to hide is interference by Boris Johnson in UK security concerns.

Ellis has promised to publish the necessary information “promptly” on May 10, when Parliament reconvenes.

This will be after the local elections, and I wonder whether the delay is motivated by the possibility that it will influence voters against supporting the Tories. But then, why not just say, “This may affect the outcome of an election”?

Or would that be an admission of Johnson’s guilt?

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Law on records of government comms is badly out-of-date, WhatsApp court ruling shows

Social media junkie: Boris Johnson is probably deleting WhatsApp messages in this shot.

The Tory government has been crowing after High Court judges said there is nothing in the law to stop ministers from using services like WhatsApp and personal email accounts to make decisions and authorise action.

But this doesn’t mean ministers are justified in carrying out their business away from the official records.

It means the law on what should be counted as a public or official record is badly out of date and must be amended at once.

In fact, let’s face it, there should have been a constant policy of updating as soon as the Internet emerged as the communications revolution it has become.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has used WhatsApp to make decisions on the procurement of ventilators and on Covid-19 testing in care homes. We only know this because his ex-aide, now enemy, Dominic Cummings took screenshots of the now-deleted messages.

The procurement decisions are important because we know the Tory government paid huge amounts to fellow Tories who were not able to fulfil the contracts, while ignoring experienced firms that could have honoured any deals easily, and lives are certain to have been lost as a result.

And we know that government failures on Covid-19 in care homes certainly led to more than 20,000 deaths there.

Lord Brownlow discussed his funding of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat refurbishment with Johnson on WhatsApp, and it has been suggested that he only put up the money because Johnson had made a vague undertaking to consider his “Great Exhibition” idea.

Then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock diverted £40 million to Alex Bourne for vials to be used in Covid-19 tests, despite his having no previous experience of providing medical supplies, after the former landlord of a pub close to Hancock’s constituency home sent him a WhatsApp message.

Lord Bethell claimed that he never used his private email or telephone accounts for official business – but then replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) deals.

None of the information in the messages mentioned above is covered by the 1958 Public Records Act, so judges at the High Court said it was not illegal to have used WhatsApp, or to have used auto-delete software to remove evidence of the decision-making carried out there:

In their ruling, Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Johnson said the 1958 act “says nothing about such matters as whether a person can use a personal device to communicate with others about government business”.

They added: “Nor… does it require the production of a record of something in the first place.”

The widespread use of instant messaging services such as WhatsApp meant it was often a forum for workplace conversations “that would previously have been undertaken face-to-face” and not recorded, the judges said.

And the act’s wording meant there would “in practice be a large measure of discretion [within government] involved as to precisely what ‘arrangements’ there should be”, according to the ruling.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the ruling “vindicates our long-standing position that we have acted in a proper and appropriate manner” – but it doesn’t do anything of the sort. It merely states that a 64-year-old, out-of-date law did not foresee changes in the way we communicate.

Gemma Abbott, legal director of the Good Law Project, one of the groups that took the case to the High Court, had it right when she said, “The use of private email accounts by ministers creates information black holes, thwarting Freedom of Information requests and critically undermining public inquiries.”

For that reason, the law needs to be updated to bring new methods of communication under its authority.

But, having got away with a killing (or, indeed, tens of thousands of them), can you see your corrupt Tory government lifting a finger?

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Ministers accused of using public funds for ‘Tory propaganda’ ads. Are they lies too?

Fit for recycling? In 2019, Tory newspaper ads were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority as a pack of lies. Are these new ads about ‘Levelling Up’ similarly fact-free?

‘Levelling Up’ Ministers have been accused of using more than £100,000 of public money to flood local newspapers and Facebook with “Tory propaganda”, weeks before the local elections.

The Tory government has funded Facebook adverts promoting ‘levelling up’ spending in more than 30 areas, including many places where the Conservatives are hoping to make gains or defend council seats in May.

It has also used public money to fund wraparound adverts to cover the fronts of local newspapers, claiming to have been ‘levelling up’ across a map of the UK with the union flag.

Places targeted include tight council areas like Southend, Great Yarmouth, Derby, Wolverhampton and Walsall and general election marginals including Darlington, Blyth Valley, and Stoke-on-Trent.

There are also reports of radio adverts and even digital billboards in town centres.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities refused to say how much was being spent on the advertising campaign –  but it is likely to be far higher in total than the £100,000 spent on Facebook ads alone.

The Labour Party has been up in arms about the campaign, which has been launched just before the official “purdah” period that prevents the government from making public announcements or running campaigns – but low regulation around election advertising means little can be done.

According to The Guardian, Lisa Nandy said, “This is now a government so lacking in ambition that it literally has to pay people to promote its flagship policies.”

But a government spokesperson said: “These claims are untrue. Our levelling up campaign is running across the UK with areas chosen to portray real life examples of levelling up.”

This Writer’s advice is for Labour’s MPs to fact-check every claim in the Tory adverts.

Back in 2019, Boris Johnson’s Tory government paid for a series of wraparound adverts promoting Universal Credit…

They were swiftly banned by the Advertising Standards Authority as a pack of lies.

Source: Ministers accused of using public funds for ‘Tory propaganda’ ads

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Government to tell whether Boris Johnson overruled security services on Lebedev peerage

Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev: 10 days after saying he saw no evidence that Russians were influencing UK politics, Johnson has elevated this Russian to the House of Lords.

Parliament has ordered the Tory government to publish confidential information on how Evgeny Lebedev, the son of a Russian spy, was offered a place in the House of Lords.

The Guardian revealed back in 2020 that Boris Johnson overruled concerns voiced by the security services in order to give Lebedev a peerage:

Two days before Johnson met Lebedev in March [he did this on March 19, right after telling us all to stay in our homes because of Covid-19, so this happened on March 17], the House of Lords appointments commission (Holac), which scrutinises all nominations, wrote to the prime minister. It is understood to have expressed concerns about Lebedev’s proposed peerage and asked Downing Street to reconsider.

The commission, made up of cross-party peers, carries out “propriety checks” on candidates. It does not have the power of veto. But it can suggest that a party come up with an alternative, which is what is understood to have happened in Lebedev’s case.

Peers were apparently alarmed following a confidential briefing from the UK security services. They told the commission Lebedev was viewed as a potential security risk because of his father, Alexander Lebedev, a one-time Moscow spy. During the late cold war period, Lebedev Sr worked undercover at the Soviet embassy in London. His real employer was KGB foreign intelligence.

Johnson ignored the concerns and Lebedev became a Lord.

Labour leader Keir Starmer called for Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to review all the reports on Lord Lebedev that Holac saw, after Russians in the UK came under suspicion in the wake of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Lebedev himself has supported publication of the material, saying, “I have nothing to hide.”

But Downing Street insisted that “all peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission” – an assertion that failed to acknowledge that Holac can’t veto an appointment, which always remains within the gift of the prime minister.

And Johnson himself has denied overruling the concerns expressed by the security services.

If the documents are published and show that Johnson did indeed ignore concerns raised by the security services, then he has lied in his capacity as prime minister. If he uttered those words in Parliament, then he will have broken the Ministerial Code and his resignation will be required.

And the irony is that any security risk posed by Lebedev is tiny in any case – because Lords are not shown “classified” documents.

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Government votes down calls to change asylum and immigration reforms

Border Force: the government wants refugees picked up by these officials to be sent to a phenomenally expensive purpose-built site on Ascension Island. Lunacy.

The Conservative government has voted to support extremely expensive changes to the immigration and asylum system, in spite of objections from its own party.

Tory Andrew Mitchell said plans for an offshore processing system for asylum seekers – on Ascension Island, after bids to put one in Ghana, Rwanda, Albania and Denmark were all refused – were ridiculous.

He questioned how much such a policy would cost: “Judged by the costs of Australian offshoring the British taxpayer would face unprecedented costs per asylum seeker. It would be much cheaper to put each one in the The Ritz and send all the under-18s to Eton.”

David Davis previously described such a move as creating “a British Guantanamo Bay”.

Lords had removed the measure from the Nationality and Borders Bill last month, but MPs voted by 302 votes to 232, majority 70, to disagree with the Lords and put it back in.

A Lords amendment which sought to guarantee the UK takes in at least 10,000 refugees a year, which was rejected by 313 votes to 227 – a majority of 86 votes.

An attempt by peers to cut the time asylum seekers have to wait before they can work from 12 to six months was rejected by MPs by 291 votes to 232 – a majority of 59 votes – but the government did offer to meet concerned Tory MPs to discuss the issue further.

The legislation will now return to the Lords for peers to examine again in what is known as ‘parliamentary ping-pong’.

Source: Government sees off calls from some Tories to change asylum and immigrations reforms

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Here’s why campaigners are right to seek end of ‘government by WhatsApp’

Social media junkie: for all we know, Boris Johnson is probably deleting WhatsApp messages in this shot.

Government ministers led by Boris Johnson are conducting business via insecure social media services because it is easier than doing the work properly – and because they can hide what they are doing.

That’s the only explanation This Writer can see for Boris Johnson receiving a summary of the material from his ministerial red box via WhatsApp – he’s simply too damned lazy to go through the paperwork himself.

It means some poor civil servant has to do his work for him, in order to present him with a summary that he just about manages to keep in his tiny mind long enough to get it entirely mixed up – as seems to have happened, infamously, in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in 2018. If not that, what was the real reason for his shocking faux pas?

As for hiding what they are doing – we have seen secret WhatsApp messages from Boris Johnson because his former aide Dominic Cummings took screenshots of them – and they include decision-making on the procurement of ventilators, testing in care homes, and Mr Johnson’s description of then health secretary Matt Hancock as “hopeless”.

But there is no official record of these messages. That is unacceptable.

Worse, it has emerged that Johnson and other senior ministers, along with at least one of the six Cabinet Office senior civil servants, downloaded Signal – an app that can instantly delete messages. The only reason for them to do that is to communicate decisions outside of official government channels; government in secret.

That’s why campaigning lawyers from the Good Law Project and Foxglove are challenging the government’s use of these social media platforms in the High Court.

The Good Law Project and Foxglove say records of vital decision-making have been lost to the public, and this could undermine investigations such as next year’s inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They say the government is potentially in breach of its own data security guidelines and the Public Records Act of 1958, which requires legal checks to be made on messages in case they need to be kept for the public interest:

Cori Crider, director of Foxglove, said: “Our democracy can only work if the decisions of those who represent us are open to scrutiny.

“That can’t happen if officials govern by secret WhatsApp chats that vanish into thin air.”

The government says it has secure channels for exchanging sensitive information, and ministers are obliged to record important decision-making discussions with officials.

It argues that a record is kept of all substantive discussions and only ephemeral messages are deleted.

With proof that Johnson used WhatsApp to communicate decisions – and then deleted them – freely available courtesy of Cummings, it will be interesting to see if any right-thinking judge can uphold that argument.

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.

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