Tag Archives: government

Labour wins historic SIXTH term in succession in Welsh government – and may consider independence vote

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has described the Tory government in Westminster as “utterly shambolic”.

Has any UK-based government won six successive terms? That’s what Labour just achieved in Wales.

It shows the advantage that sitting governments can use, when they actually deliver on their promises and do their best to help the population.

The mainstream media have been unforgivably quiet about it. Perhaps the London-based hacks think Wales doesn’t matter. They certainly pay more attention to Scotland, where the SNP has won only its fourth successive term.

That could all change very soon, with both devolved governments likely to support independence referenda if proposals are put before them.

I know Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to make it happen. The surprise here is that Mark Drakeford has said he will support an independence referendum in Wales, if there is a majority in the Senedd for holding one.

The contrast with Labour’s performance in England could not be more extreme – as social media commenters have merrily pointed out:

The lesson was very clearly put by Simon de Jever: “Drakeford is a left wing Corbyn supporting leader. Starmer is a Corbyn bashing centrist. Drakeford has had a spectacular win even in Brexit areas and Starmer has reduced the Labour vote to 29%.”

And Andrew Feinstein added: “Makes you think Starmer’s purge of the left and massive shift to the right might have been a mistake!”

 

 

Ya think?

The victory creates huge problems for Keir Starmer because his failure will be measured against Drakeford’s success. Some are already laying bets that Drakeford’s suspension from the Labour Party is already in the mail.

But if Drakeford is serious about permitting an independence referendum, it could create a monumental problem for Boris Johnson.

He can’t refuse permission for such a poll on the basis that we’ve had one recently (as in Scotland) because we haven’t.

He can’t rely on Wales rejecting independence because he knows his government has been so appallingly useless that many Welsh people may consider going it alone to be preferable – even if it means a few lean years in the immediate future. We’ll have hardship under the Tories indefinitely.

And it means he could be in line for a double dose of shame as the prime minister who presided over the end of the United Kingdom.

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Hated disability ‘benefit’ to be replaced in Scotland – with no dreaded face-to-face assessments

Meanwhile, in England and Wales: it’s not quite this bad but the death toll suggests it might as well be.

It’s easy to understand why the Scottish National Party is so popular north of the border – it actually fulfils its promises.

For example: it is replacing the hated Tory Personal Independence Payment for people living with disabilities.

The new Adult Disability Payment will be phased in next year, providing financial support to cover the extra costs faced by people with disabilities.

The SNP-run Scottish government has announced that the benefit will take a new approach, to ensure dignity, fairness and respect.

According to the Daily Record:

Social Security Scotland will make decisions about entitlement for ADP using the applicant’s account of their circumstances and existing supporting information, where possible.

The number of face-to-face assessments will be significantly reduced and will only be necessary when it is the only practicable way to make a decision.

Most consultations will be carried out over the phone, but can be face-to-face in a GP surgery or even at home – whatever works best for the person applying.

And claimants will no longer be asked to carry out tasks to demonstrate how their disability, long-term illness or mental health condition affects them as part of the application process.

This promises to be a huge improvement. Also helpful will be the provision of supporting material which may include a social care needs assessment, a report from a Community Psychiatric Nurse, and information from a carer.

As a carer myself, This Writer would have loved to be able to submit information to support Mrs Mike’s PIP (and ESA) claims.

But anything can seem good before it has actually been tested.

I would like to hear from claimants of the new benefit, once it starts coming in. Let’s hope they say good things about it.

Source: PIP to be replaced by new disability payment which includes no face-to-face assessments – Daily Record

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What’s the point of a ‘review’ of the Greensill Scandal that can’t actually effect change?

George Eustice has a record of defending the indefensible: he also believes children should starve during the holidays, asylum seekers should drown and people should die of Covid-19 rather than let the economy be harmed.

After the Greensill Scandal brought to light a mountain of evidence showing corruption at the highest level of government, Boris Johnson announced a ‘review’ – that won’t have power to change anything.

Environment Secretary George Eustace admitted the review will be utterly pointless:

Mr Eustice told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “This review doesn’t need enforcement powers as such, it just needs to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Asked if the government would act on any recommendations from the report, Mr Eustice said there probably wouldn’t be any.

He said: “I don’t think the review’s going to make any policy recommendations.”

Asked what the point of the review was, when it has no powers and won’t make any recommendations, he said: “People are raising questions about what happened in this particular instance around [failed bank represented by David Cameron] Greensill…The purpose of the review is to answer those questions, not prescribe policy.”

In other words, it seems the aim is to make up a plausible fairy story that the Tories think we’ll accept.

That’s about as reassuring as “Ministers ‘will look at’ ideas for new lobbying rules”.

Maybe they will. They’ll look at the ideas and then they’ll file them in a litter bin.

The review will undoubtedly find that Cameron’s activities were entirely legal and conformed to the rules – intentionally avoiding the point.

The point is that the rules are intentionally corrupt. They were devised by David Cameron to allow him to do – legally – what he did.

And they also allow any other Tory to take advantage of them in the same way.

That is the reason no member of the current Tory government is going to lift a finger to change them.

Source: Minister admits Boris Johnson’s ‘review’ of lobbying scandal will have no powers – Mirror Online

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Greensill: Johnson launches government-run review of lobbying. It’ll be another whitewash

David Cameron: he acted very slick in office but it seems he simply refused to do anything right.

Labour has (rightly) attacked Boris Johnson for launching only a government review of lobbying rather than a full independent inquiry in the light of the Greensill scandal.

Revelations about David Cameron’s involvement with the failed finance firm – for which he lobbied Tory ministers after quitting as their prime minister – are coming thick and fast.

The latest is that the government’s former head of procurement, Bill Crothers, was allowed to take a job with Greensill Capital two months before quitting his civil service role.

Having made this decision, the Cabinet Office (run at the time by Matt Hancock) then decided that, because he was already working for the firm before leaving, Mr Crothers would not have to apply to Whitehall’s “revolving door” regulator, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).

The former civil servant says he did not promote Greensill for any public sector business for more than two years after leaving – but what did he do during those two months in 2015?

Labour’s Rachel Reeves did the morning media rounds today (April 14), saying that an internal review would not be good enough. Considering the Crothers revelations, she had a point:

Adil Ray on Good Morning Britain tried to torpedo her by pointing out that Tony Blair took a job with JP Morgan – one of the world’s biggest banks – after quitting as the UK’s prime minister in 2007.

She responded: “If anyone has any evidence that former Prime Ministers have been using their status to access special treatment for firms they are working for they should be investigated.

“But there are no accusations.”

Mr Ray might have scored a more palpable hit if he had pointed out that Labour has its own experience of whitewashing a corruption inquiry: the Forde inquiry was originally intended to examine whether party officers had worked to prevent the party from winning the 2017 election with Jeremy Corbyn as its leader – but this was subsequently removed from its remit and the inquiry’s report has been suppressed by the Labour leadership for many months.

There will be a vote on the form any inquiry will take later today (I’m writing this at around 11.30am) – but it won’t succeed because of that 80-seat Conservative majority that means Boris Johnson can impose any corruption he fancies; his backbenchers will vote it through mindlessly, herding through the lobby like the sheep they are.

And no doubt many members of the public will believe the findings of that inquiry, drinking the whitewash like the sheep they are, even though they know it is poison to their own well-being; government corruption harms the nation.

But it is good to see Labour attacking Tory corruption at long last.

Johnson has had a free pass from Keir Starmer’s right-wingers for far too long. It is many months past time the UK’s main opposition party actually did some opposing and held him to account.

But I fear that it is only happening because Starmer thinks it will look good in the run-up to the local elections – and that it will prove to be the usual half-hearted attempt from his party: too little, too late.

Source: Greensill: Labour’s call to widen lobbying probe rejected by No 10 – BBC News

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Downing Street definitely rewrote race report – according to commissioners hired to make it

Duper’s delight again: picture this look on the face of the man who described black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”, after he saw his government’s rewrite of the so-called race report that claims there is no institutional racism in the UK.

This is a huge blow to the government’s credibility. One of the so-called ‘independent’ Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity has said Downing Street rewrote its report that claims the UK has no institutional racism.

Kunle Olulode, an anti-racism activist and director of the charity Voice4Change, reckons evidence was cherrypicked, distorted and denied in the final document.

Another commissioner, who wished to remain anonymous, accused the government of “bending” the work of its commission to fit “a more palatable” political narrative and denying the working group the autonomy it was promised.

The Observer, in its article, said it has been claimed that significant sections of the report were not written by the 12 commissioners who were appointed last July – or even read by them before it was published.

The group was not given an opportunity to sign off the document, nor were they made aware of its 24 final recommendations. Instead, the finished report, it is alleged, was produced by 10 Downing Street.

The revelations mean the report has lost any authority it may have had, with claims that it was produced independently of the government now thoroughly discredited.

The newspaper report goes on to remind us that the document had been commissioned by Samuel Kasumu, No 10’s most senior black special adviser, who resigned on the day it was published, in shock at its findings.

And the race commission itself seems to have set itself against its own commissioners, with a spokesperson asserting that they “are deliberately seeking to divert attention from the recommendations”.

I disagree. It seems to me that they have attracted attention to those recommendations – by rejecting them.

It is clear that the report isn’t worth the cost of the paper it was written on and nobody should take any action on its recommendations, or base their behaviour on any claims it contains.

If the government won’t withdraw it, then it should be ignored.

Let it hang around Boris Johnson’s neck like a millstone – a constant reminder of his arrogance and incompetence.

After all, he’s the prime minister who refused to even shake hands with black people:

Source: Downing Street rewrote ‘independent’ report on race, experts claim | UK news | The Guardian

Tory MPs make the final link to identify with fascism in ‘Good Friday’ tweet

Fascism: Nadhim Zahawi was one of several Tory MPs who posted an image that tried to appropriate Christian imagery for the Conservative Party.

Remember my article a couple of weeks ago, asserting that Boris Johnson’s government is not Conservative but Fascist, and providing the reasons?

I referred to a list of 14 characteristics of fascist regimes, as defined by Lawrence W Britt. Johnson’s government conformed to 13 of them.

The only one missing was “religion and government intertwined”.

And now the Tories have met that condition as well.

Why else would Nadhim Zahawi have tweeted this?

Zahawi, originally an Iraqi Kurd, has a Christian background but that cannot excuse him publishing an image that some would describe as blasphemy.

An image containing a Christian symbol, with the Tory logo attached to it, on one of the holiest days in the Christian year, is not only tasteless; it is shocking.

The Conservatives are not Christian in either outlook or behaviour. Jesus Christ often preached against the selfishness of people with Conservative values – perhaps most famously when he said it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Apparently many other Tory MPs have tweeted it too, which suggests that it has come from Conservative Central HQ.

So this image can serve no other purpose than to attempt an intertwining of religion and government, as defined in fascist ideology.

There has been a backlash, of course.

I have part-paraphrased Clare Hepworth’s tweet already. She also said that although she is an atheist, she respects the icons, rituals and symbols of all of them – and described the Tory image as “tasteless and just plain wrong”.

Here are some more:

Some Tories have tried to counter by claiming that the image was no worse than when the Labour Party has posted images to Muslims saying “Eid Mubarak”, but it is an argument that does not work. Here’s the reason:

Just so. Labour wasn’t appropriating Muslim symbols when it sent its message to Muslims, but that’s exactly what this message did.

And that means Zahawi and the Tories have crossed the line into full-on fascism. What a time – and what a way – to do it.

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Government buildings ordered to fly Union flag every day as Tories stride into blatant fascism

Flag-shagger: Boris Johnson’s insistence on having a Union flag behind him whenever he is seen on TV, and his government’s demand that government buildings fly that flag at all times, indicates an alignment with “powerful and continuing nationalism” of the kind promoted by organisations like the BNP and Britain First: fascists all.

All UK government buildings have been ordered to fly the Union flag every day in the Johnson government’s most blatant display of fascist principles yet.

The first characteristic of fascism, according to Laurence W Britt’s famous 14-point list, is “powerful and continuing nationalism”.

This is most strongly evidenced by the use of flags. You see it in the behaviour of far-right extremists like the BNP, Britain First and so on, whose insistence on adopting the Union flag for themselves has dragged it into disrepute.

Johnson may claim that he’s taking it back but in fact he is merely aligning his government with those other fascists.

Source: Government buildings to fly Union flag every day – BBC News

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The Tories have started their attack on court power and their plan to create a dictatorship

Manifesto commitment: the Conservatives made their plan to end democracy clear in their 2019 election manifesto. Every Conservative voter demanded an end to democracy and a slide into dictatorship.

We all knew this was coming because the Conservatives announced their plan to attack the so-called separation of powers that prevents our country from slipping into dictatorship back in 2019.

It was in their manifesto, which means everybody who voted for Boris Johnson and his Conservatives deliberately and knowingly supported it.

For those who have had their heads in the sand for the last two years, or have only become politically aware since the election, I’ll explain:

The separation of powers is the division of any state’s government into different branches, each with its own powers and responsibilities.

The intention is to prevent the concentration of power under any leader that would lead to a dictatorship, by providing checks and balances: each branch has power to limit or check the other two, induces them to prevent either of the other branches from becoming supreme, thereby securing political liberty.

The typical separation of powers is into three parts: a legislature (Parliament), an executive (government) and a judiciary (courts). That is what we have in the United Kingdom.

Each branch must have legitimate means to defend their own legitimate powers from those of the other branches.

But Boris Johnson’s plan – as laid out in his 2019 manifesto – is to strip the courts of their power to act as a check and balance against his government, allowing himself to enact laws that would be illegal otherwise.

Currently the courts have a mechanism known as judicial review, which allows them to decide whether decisions by government ministers or public bodies are against the law.

As it stands now, it works very well.

The courts cannot overturn Acts of Parliament; they can only rule that decisions made in the name of particular laws were wrong because either a minister did not have the power to make them, or the process leading to them was unfair or irrational – or does not conform with the Human Rights Act.

Most appeals for judicial review do not reach the courts: in 2018, 3,597 were lodged and only 218 saw the inside of a courtroom. The government went on to win half of them.

But Johnson was upset by two court decisions – on the government’s management of Brexit, and on his aborted prorogation of Parliament.

He says that the decisions of the judges meant they were acting politically, considering the merits of his government’s political decisions rather than the way those decisions were made. This is not true.

The claim that the current system allows judges to retake decisions on how a policy should operate is wrong. They don’t. They have stepped in to clarify the law after the government failed to do so – probably in an attempt to push through offences against democracy under a fuzzily-worded law – but that is not the same thing. The courts have merely acted in accordance with their power to rule whether the government acted within the bounds of its own laws or not.

So now, Johnson intends to ensuring that, when his government breaks the law in the future, the courts will not have the power either to reveal the illegality or to prevent it.

It is part of the three pillars of his manifesto that drag us into dictatorship – the other two being removal of our right to protest (in the Police Bill currently going through Parliament) and imposition of indefinite government (by repealing the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, which has not yet happened).

All were on page 48 of the Tories 2019 manifesto.

I stated in an article a week before the 2019 election:

While the manifesto states: “We will get rid of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – it has led to paralysis at a time the country needed decisive action,” it means: We will impose an indefinite Conservative government.

While it states: “We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays,” it means: We will impose a Conservative dictatorship that the courts cannot stop from acting illegally.

And while it states: “We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government,” it means: We will remove your right to protest against our dictatorship and if you try to stop us, we will use the police and the armed forces to PUT YOU DOWN.

If you vote Conservative on December 12, that is what you are demanding.

And they did demand it. More than 13 million people voted for a dictatorship – less than one-quarter of the UK’s population – but that was enough to give Johnson a mandate to end democracy here.

I added:

A vote for the Conservatives is a vote to end the rule of law.

And I was right. But my words were read only by those who already knew the truth of what I was saying.

Now we’re all going to experience it, and it will be very ugly indeed.

But if you ever see a Tory complaining about the hardships that are to come, feel free to remind them:

You voted for it. You wanted it. And you got what you wanted.

Source: Right to challenge government in courts overhauled – BBC News

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Tories plan to rig local elections with change from proportional representation to FPTP

The Conservatives are planning to make it easier for them to win local elections by changing the voting system to make it less representative.

Currently, elections for Combined Authority mayors, the mayor of London and police and crime commissioners are carrried out using a version of proportional representation which takes into account the preferences of people whose first choices do not have the highest number of votes.

Two candidates go through to the second round if no one gets more than 50 per cent of the primary vote.

A winner is then chosen from the remaining two by taking preferences into account from the voters who chose eliminated candidates as their first preference.

This means that everybody’s vote helps to influence the result – but the Conservatives lose out.

That’s why they want to change the system to FPTP – “First Past The Post” – in which the party winning the most votes in a single round of voting wins the election, even if it doesn’t have the support of a majority of the people.

Priti Patel announcing the plan to change the system, lied that the British people had rejected proportional representation in a referendum in 2011.

She was wrong. The public endorsed FPTP only for general elections, because the referendum was focused only on them.

The intention is clear: the Tories are going to rig local elections to ensure that they have the best chance of winning.

The London School of Economics has warned that the change could wipe out the accountability of a London mayor (for example) by removing small parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party from the London Assembly, which holds the mayor to account.

And London Labour warned,

For the Tory Government to impose a change to the electoral system without first asking the views of Londoners in a follow-up referendum demonstrates their breathtaking arrogance and their utter disdain for devolution.

Fortunately for democracy, any change to electoral systems will have to be approved by Parliament via legislation, and this cannot happen before the local elections – including the London mayoral election – on May 6 this year.

Just watch how quickly the Tories try to impose the change if they lose that election!

Source: Government plans to change London mayor elections to First Past the Post : CityAM

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‘No ceiling’ promise for Welsh NHS pay rise – but how much will nurses actually get?

It will be interesting to see what pay rise Welsh NHS staff get, in the end.

The Welsh Government might not have said there is a ceiling on the amount it will pay NHS workers here, but that doesn’t mean Vaughan Gething doesn’t have one in mind.

There is no magic money tree for the Welsh Government; no Bank of Wales to create cash out of nowhere to pay for policy objectives.

The Welsh Government has to rely on the grant doled out to it by the Tories in Westminster, who very obviously restricted that cash a few years ago in order to prevent Wales from looking more generous to its health workers than England.

There are limited powers of taxation, too.

It’s clear that the Welsh Government – the Labour-run Welsh Government – can smell a propaganda victory over the Tories here, whose meagre one per cent offer is in fact a pay cut, as inflation is currently 1.5-1.8 per cent.

But I doubt they will be willing to sacrifice any hard-won fiscal credibility.

Also, of course, any decision will take into account the recommendation of the independent NHS Pay Review Body.

I would be astonished if it supported the full 12.5 per cent rise demanded by the Royal College of Nurses.

But a significant rise could lead to an influx of staff and a surge in procedures, leading in turn to increased productivity in the Welsh workforce.

Remember, healthcare has a “multiplier” effect on the economy that the Tories ignore. A decent pay deal for Welsh NHS staff could make the consequences of that ideological difference embarrassingly clear.

So Gething has it all to play for.

Let’s hope he doesn’t fumble the ball.

Source: Welsh NHS: ‘No ceiling’ for possible pay rise, says minister – BBC News

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