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Rees-Mogg talks about business support – on a street of boarded-up business failures

Don’t you just love Maximilien Robespierre‘s Fool of the Week feature?

Here, he highlights Jacob Rees-Mogg, who made a video about support for businesses that is too little, too late – while trying to avoid showing us the reality of the situation. Needless to say, others were on hand to reveal the truth of the situation.

Here’s the clip:

And here’s another perspective on it from Phil Moorhouse of A Different Bias:

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Truss v Biden on ‘trickle-down’ economics – while her government hides the facts

It is as though Liz Truss spent the Mourning Period asking herself how she could make herself appear stupider than Boris Johnson on the world stage.

She has gone to a summit in the United States, pushing her tax-cutting plan to boost the economy, saying “trickle-down” economics will work – at the same time as President Biden posted on Twitter: “I am sick of trickle-down economics. It has never worked.”

Worse still, she already knows her plan won’t work because she has economic forecasts telling her that. So her government is refusing to publish that information.

Watch:

The BBC report mentioned in the clip can be found here.

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DWP rejects MPs’ plea to pause benefit deductions – hides it behind Queen’s funeral

The Department for Work and Pensions has refused to stop taking money from already-inadequate benefit payments – and has hidden the decision by releasing it while the media were focused on the Queen’s funeral.

MPs on the Commons’ Work and Pensions Select Committee called for the DWP to stop debt repayments being deducted from benefits, back in July.

They said deductions should be restarted only when inflation eased or benefit levels caught up.

It seems DWP chiefs have spent around two months waiting for “a good day to bury bad news”, as the saying goes.

According to Open Democracy,

[MPs] said the debt deductions were causing “hardship” for “households currently struggling with huge financial pressures”, and people needed “breathing space”.

Nearly half (45%) of people on Universal Credit are currently having deductions taken out of their benefits to repay debts, at an average of £62 a month. The debts are typically caused by historic overpayments and other errors, advance payments made during the five-week-wait for Universal Credit, and by arrears on energy costs and other priority bills. Currently the government can deduct up to a quarter of someone’s benefits each month to repay these debts.

MPs heard from charities including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that these deductions were “a key factor in destitution”. The Trussell Trust said the practice was pushing “people into destitution and needing to turn to a food bank”.

Now brace yourself for the DWP’s nonsense justification for putting people into destitution:

the Department for Work and Pensions said it did not believe pausing deductions was “necessarily in the claimant’s best interest”. It said that if that deductions were paused between now and the April 2023 rise, people might then not notice the impact … when it comes … and people might “feel no better off”.

But they’re not going to feel better-off anyway if the whole uplift has to go towards servicing debts that could be avoided if the DWP simply paused these deductions for a while.

The government also rejected MPs’ calls to bring forward the uprating of benefits, currently not due to take effect till April 2023. In April this year, benefits were increased by an inflation rate that was seven months out of date – rising 3.1%, at a point when inflation was already running at 9%.

So already, people on benefits are receiving far less than they should, simply to keep up with inflation.

Claimants are eligible for additional money to help with housing costs – but this is “not intended” to cover the rent fully in many areas, meaning people have to make that shortfall up from their benefits, too. MPs called for the housing element to be increased, as happened during the pandemic, but the government rejected this call, too, citing its work on helping people on benefits save for a deposit to buy a house instead. According to housing charity Shelter, most private tenants have a shortfall, as the maximum amount is set to cover only the lowest 30% of rents in any given area, and there are other exclusions as well.

It should be easy to conclude from this that the Tory “benefit” system is unfit for purpose and the sooner they are taken out of its administration, the better.

And the reason the DWP is refusing to take action to stop people on benefits from falling into debt and destitution should be clear: that is exactly what the Tory system is designed to do.

Source: DWP rejects ‘cost of living’ plea by MPs to pause benefit deductions | openDemocracy

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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.

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Hancock LIED when he said there was never a national PPE shortage. Here’s the evidence. Now demand his resignation

Yet again: the PPE used in UK hospitals at the start of the Covid crisis is pictured bottom right. The infographic was made when the UK had hardly any personal protective equipment – but now Matt Hancock is trying to save his job by claiming there was never any shortage.

The Death Health Secretary is trying to rewrite history:

Did you hear him?

One minute and 40 seconds in: “But there wasn’t a national shortage [of personal protective equipment – PPE] at any point.”

That is simply untrue.

Here he is in April last year, saying he’d love to wave a magic wand to resolve PPE shortages:

The Tory government of the day was told in 2016/17, after Operation Cygnus, that the UK’s health service would be unable to cope with a pandemic virus infection without plentiful supplies of protective equipment for health workers… and decided that such an investment was too expensive.

This led to a situation in March 2020 when an NHS procurement chief, Alan Hoskins tweeted: “What a day, no gowns NHS Supply Chain. Rang every number escalated to NHS England, just got message back — no stock, can’t help, can send you a PPE pack. Losing the will to live, god help us all.”

The tweet was subsequently deleted, possibly under duress as even then the Tory government was trying to hide the facts. As This Writer put it on April 3 last year: “it seems doctors have been warned not to make any comments about shortages on social media, as well as avoiding talking to journalists, and NHS England has taken over media operations for many hospitals and health trusts in order to ensure that they all stay “on message”.”

On April 17 I brought public attention to the plight of nurses who had been forced to wear bin bags instead of proper protection. According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

I wrote: “One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.”

How right I was.

On April 19 I quoted a Sunday Times piece on the Johnson government’s PPE failures that showed he had sent 278,800 items of protective kit to China in February – immediately before the UK had needed it:

Downing Street admitted on February 24 — just five days before NHS chiefs warned a lack of PPE left the health service facing a “nightmare” — that the UK government had supplied 1,800 pairs of goggles and 43,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 face masks to China.

Don’t worry – it seems we may be getting some of it back. It’s just that the government isn’t sure, having lost £15 billion worth of PPE, some of which it has bought (back?) from other countries including China:

The government is not sure where billions of pounds worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) is located, the head of the National Audit Office has disclosed.

Gareth Davies, the comptroller and auditor general, said outside consultants had been brought into Whitehall to find all equipment, which is stored at different sites around the country, or is in transit from abroad.

Under questioning from the public accounts committee, Davies said: “We have been working closely with the DoH. It has commissioned consultants to advise it on first of all understanding where all the PPE that has been bought actually is. It sounds like a strange question but it is a really big issue because it is not all standing neatly in an NHS store somewhere.

“We have amounts in containers, in storage around the country, there’s some on the docks and there is some en route somewhere from China.”

On April 18 last year, I quoted a Mirror report that

NHS doctors and nurses will be asked to treat patients infected with coronavirus without full-length gowns – or re-use the ones they have, it has emerged tonight.

The Government has been under fire for weeks over the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), with some frontline staff warning that they have had to work in situations where they feel unsafe.

Public Health England guidelines currently state that full-length waterproof surgical gowns should by worn by medical workers to stop Covid-19 spreading into someone’s mouth or nose.

However, there has now been a U-turn advising staff to wear a flimsy plastic apron when gowns run out or not wear one at all

And Matt Hancock has the cheek to tell us now that there was never a shortage.

Here’s a tweet about PPE availability in one hospital on April 19:

The following day we learned a much-touted delivery of PPE from Turkey would last just three days. It had been previously reported that Boris Johnson had refused to join an EU scheme to provide PPE where it was needed (see the Peter Stefanovic tweet towards the top of this article).

On April 24 we found

The UK’s stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in a pandemic…  has been outsourced to a private company, Movianto, which was sold two weeks ago for $133m (£107m) by its owner, a large US healthcare group.

Two days later the Turkish shipment of PPE arrived – and proved to be just one-twelfth of the expected amount.

Later in the Covid crisis we learned that the Tories were using the emergency procurement system which bypasses the competitive tendering process and allows the government to purchase items and services direct from chosen firms, was being abused.

Tories were giving cash to their cronies in return for equipment that simply wasn’t fit to be used.

The classic example is that of Board of Trade president (and cheese queen) Liz Truss, who spent £150 million of your money on 50 million face masks for the NHS that couldn’t be used.

She had been approached for the contract by one of her long-standing friends and advisors, Andrew Mills. Oh, and apparently it was sourced through a tax haven so this guy can keep all the money.

Mills was subsequently removed from his advisory position. But Truss didn’t go anywhere.

Tory ministers “learned the lessons” from this mistake by handing a further £180 million to their cronies for PPE.

Did we get it? Doubtful.

All the way down the line the Tories have failed us.

They gave away our PPE when we needed it.

They failed to join an international scheme to provide it where it was needed.

They failed to source it themselves.

They gave money to their friends and cronies who had no experience in providing PPE, and received trash in return.

As a result, health service professionals caught Covid-19. Many of them died.

And Matt Hancock, who is on video record from last year, saying he wished he could wave a magic wand and eliminate the PPE shortage, is now telling us he shouldn’t have to resign for breaking the law by hiding contract details – because he made sure there was never a PPE shortage.

He is a LIAR.

He should resign NOW.

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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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Tory corruption: why hide results of inquiry into NHS Covid-19 deaths?

Sufferer: Did any NHS staff member realise, when the Covid cases started coming into hospitals, that they could end up occupying the same beds as the people they were treating?

Who will benefit from the decision to keep secret the findings of a government review of Covid-19 related deaths of NHS staff?

The deceased won’t; they are beyond worrying about these things.

Their families won’t; it’s in their interests to have any mistakes made public, to get justice for the deaths of their relatives.

Other NHS staff won’t; it’s in their interests to have any mistakes made public, to ensure that they are not repeated, possibly harming them.

No, the only people who will benefit from this decision are the decision-makers themselves; secrecy will hide any mistakes they made, obscuring any responsibility they may have for the deaths.

And who are the decision-makers?

Matt Hancock. Boris Johnson.

The Conservative government.

This stinks of Tory corruption.

Source: Coronavirus: Cover-up fears as reviews of Covid-19 deaths among NHS staff to be kept secret | The Independent

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BBC covers up Johnson’s broken coronavirus testing promises; viewers switch to social media

It is any wonder that TV journalists are among the least-trusted in the UK in discussions of the coronavirus.

Today, in a segment on the arrival of the deadline for the government to meet its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day, the BBC broadcast part of an interview from six weeks ago in which Boris Johnson promised to reach 25,000 tests a day.

Nothing was said of his original promise, which was 250,000 tests a day – 10 times as many and two-and-a-half times the current target, which is believed to have been missed.

On Tuesday, the government was only managing 52,000 tests.

According to Skwawkbox, the BBC

also framed the whole segment to make it appear that testing has always been the government’s ‘watchword throughout this crisis’ – even though the Tories have been so slow and dismissive on testing that the UK was one of the countries rebuked by the World Health Organisation for ignoring the WHO’s ‘test, test, test’ strategy that has allowed South Korea to reach zero domestic transmission without even having a lockdown.

The reality is that the Tories’ political decision to ignore the WHO’s advice to put mass testing at the heart of the UK’s coronavirus strategy has needlessly cost thousands of lives – we have suffered more deaths than any other country apart from the US – and has inflicted massive and avoidable damage on our economy.

It’s another reason people are switching to the social media in their masses – This Site’s hits during April are nearly double what they were last year.

Source: Video: watch the BBC’s huge omission to cover for Tories’ broken C19 testing promises | The SKWAWKBOX

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Tory response to NHS waiting time failure: HIDE THE EVIDENCE

This was a corridor in an English hospital’s Accident & Emergency department in early 2017 – and now the situation is worse.

Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted not only that he can’t fix the NHS waiting time crisis – he won’t even bother to try.

Instead, it seems he’ll get rid of the four-hour target for patients to be seen. In other words, he’ll hide the evidence.

Of course he’ll say it’s only a coincidence that the proportion of patients attending A&E who were seen within the four-hour limit has been falling steadily since the Tories took over government in 2010.

Before then, under Labour, it was well within the target of 95 per cent.

And I’m sure he’ll say it’s also just a coincidence that attendances at A&E last month had increased by 400,000 since 2010.

It’s nothing to do with the return of so-called “Victorian diseases” brought by the Tory “starve the poor” policies of 2010 onwards – obviously. And it’s nothing to do with the increased health problems faced by benefit claimants who the Tories (wrongly) said could live on less.

And if you believe that, you’re stupid and gullible enough to deserve the pathetic service you’re getting.

You probably even believe Hancock when he says the NHS is getting its biggest cash injection ever, when in real terms the £33.9 billion promised is nowhere near the biggest, once inflation has been taken into account.

One person who isn’t going to be gulled is Professor Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, who said last year: “In our expert opinion scrapping the four-hour target will have a near-catastrophic impact on patient safety.”

As a reader of Vox Political, I’m willing to bet that you are neither gullible nor stupid.

So, who do you believe?

Matt Hancock has signalled that four-hour waiting targets for A&E are likely to be scrapped for the NHS in England after the worst figures on record this winter.

The health secretary said it would be better if targets were “clinically appropriate” and the “right targets”, as he defended the NHS’s failure to meet the standard that 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

The target was put under review by Theresa May’s government and the NHS unveiled plans last March to pilot changes that would prioritise patients with serious conditions while patients with minor problems could wait longer than four hours.

A decision about the flagship four-hour target is due to be taken by NHS England in the coming months.

Source: Matt Hancock signals A&E waiting targets likely to be scrapped | Society | The Guardian

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Tory government breaks ruling ordering it to publish report on UK fracking

The obvious question – asked by Labour’s Jon Trickett in the quoted extract below – is clear:

If the Tories will break a legally-binding regulator’s ruling to hide the facts about fracking from the public, what other rules are they willing to break?

My guess is: all of them.

And if they’re hiding information from you, it’s because they are putting their own interests before those of the nation.

That’s no way for a government to behave.

The government has refused to abide by a ruling to publish parts of a report on the state of the UK’s fracking industry, Labour has pointed out.

The government was instructed by the information commissioners office (ICO) to release the document by 5pm on November 25th. This followed the failure of the cabinet office to respond to a freedom of information request submitted by Greenpeace in 2018.

The cabinet office had refused on the grounds the information “could call into question the industry’s viability” and was an internal government document exempt from the environmental information regulations.

Labour’s shadow minister for the cabinet office, Jon Trickett, said: “The Tories’ failure to publish this crucial report on fracking shows contempt for democracy and serves as a stark warning for what lies ahead if Boris Johnson is re-elected.

Labour has explicitly committed to a ban on fracking. The government halted fracking earlier this month but campaign groups are concerned that this is a temporary pause.

Source: Government refuses to publish report on fracking – LabourList

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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