Tag Archives: High

Party chairman lays out the DISGUSTING Tory line on too-high energy bills

Jake Berry: he looks like a far-right skinhead, and he acts like a far-right skinhead. Do you think it’s because he IS a far-right skinhead?

Jake Berry is the chairman of the Conservative Party. He can be expected to provide the party line on all the major issues.

So when he spoke out to address the concerns of ordinary people about energy bills that, even with Liz Truss’s price cap, are still too high, you can be sure it is what the Tories think.

Here’s what he said:

Let’s unpack that.

Firstly: the Conservative Party does not care if your bill is too much for you to pay.

Secondly: the Conservative Party is happy to let you freeze in your home, rather than take action to prevent that from happening.

Finally: the Conservative Party is happy to fob you off by saying you should try to take a non-existent “higher-paying job” if you want to heat your home properly.

Many of us have an opinion about that…:

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What was wrong with Kwasi Kwarteng at the Queen’s funeral?

It’s a valid question.

In case you haven’t seen what Kwasi Kwarteng was doing, it looks like this:

I reckon this could be the answer-

– don’t you?

Even if it’s not true, the BBC will be prey to such accusations as long as it has a Tory on its board, responsible for “impartiality” (a euphemism if ever there was one).

So how about it, BBC? Why not kick Robbie Gibb off your board and run a proper investigation into Kwasi Kwarteng?

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Tories look abroad for care home staff as shortage leaves residents’ basic needs unmet

Help! One can imagine the person inside the care home saying that to their relatives.

Tory Health Secretary Steve Barclay is looking abroad for employees to plug the gaps in care home staffing. Didn’t we quit the EU to stop people from foreign countries coming to the UK and taking our jobs?

Details indicating the scale of the problem are here.

Workers have been walking out to take less stressful, better-paid jobs in supermarkets, hospitality, hairdressing and factory work, according to care home managers.

Common reasons for quitting are low pay worsened by high inflation, and burnout.

Social care reforms focusing on capping costs for service users have been criticised for failing to address the staffing shortage or increasing pay.

So Barclay is going to foreign countries, asking people there to come to the UK to work incredibly hard ministering to people’s needs – for very little pay.

What’s in it for them?

Source: Staffing crisis leaves many English care home residents’ basic needs unmet

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Priti Patel told to stop lying about refugees by UN agency

Hate face: would you trust Priti Patel with a duty of care over any human beings at all?

Priti Patel should stop lying that refugees from foreign countries arriving in the UK are merely “economic migrants” looking for  a bit of easy money.

That’s the gist of a report by the United Nations’ refugee agency:

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) told the Guardian that those travelling by small boat to the UK should be considered to be asylum seekers or refugees, and not migrants.

“Based on currently available Home Office data, UNHCR considers that a clear majority of those recently arriving to the United Kingdom by boat are likely to be refugees. Refugees and asylum seekers are not, and should not be described as, ‘migrants’,” the spokesperson told the Guardian.

“Access to asylum should never be contingent on mode of arrival or nationality. Equally, the only way to establish whether people are refugees is through a fair and efficient determination of their claims, for which the UK has a clear responsibility.”

The intervention comes as the Home Office prepares to deport the first set of people to Rwanda, after Patel announced her intention to emulate a failed Israeli plan to do the same that was wound up a few years ago.

The policy is explicitly focused on people who arrive via so-called “irregular” routes, such as in small boats across the Channel or hidden in lorries.

Here’s the part of the Home Office statement referring to this (that isn’t waffle):

“Only those with inadmissible asylum claims who have made dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys will be relocated and to suggest otherwise is wrong.”

Inadmissible in what way?

Because they arrived by an “irregular” route? Who defines what is an “unnecessary” journey and what are their criteria?

Are they as described by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees? If so, is the UK breaking UN rules again, as it did with sick and disabled benefit claimants?

And will the Tory government get away with it yet again, after the UN proved utterly toothless in effecting change?

Source: Clear majority of people crossing Channel are refugees, says UNHCR

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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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Boris ‘let the bodies pile high in their thousands’ Johnson says he’s outraged over Ukraine

‘Let the bodies pile high’: we still don’t know whether Boris Johnson actually said it but we know that he agrees with the sentiment because, in the UK, due to Covid-19, the bodies have. Now he is attacking another world leader for causing similar carnage. Hypocrisy?

Are you finding this as hard to swallow as I am?

According to the BBC, Boris Johnson – the man who allegedly expressed his own comfort with the deaths of thousands of people in the UK – wants you to think he is appalled at the alleged mass deaths of civilians in Ukraine:

Mr Johnson has said the UK “will not stand by whilst this indiscriminate and unforgivable slaughter takes place”.

He added: “We are working to ensure those responsible are held to account. We will not rest until justice is done.”

What is he saying, then?

That it is all right to make decisions that result in the deaths of thousands of people – if those people are fellow citizens of your country – but it’s wrong if they’re foreigners?

Call me picky if you like, but I tend to think that any leader who makes decisions that kill thousands of people (and let’s remember that Boris Johnson absolutely and certainly falls into that category) has failed in their most fundamental duty.

We already knew Johnson was a hypocrite, but this is genocidal hypocrisy.

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Starmer is trying to change history by blaming Corbyn for Labour cash crisis

Lie: Keir Starmer wants you to think previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ruined Labour’s finances when he did it himself. Is the look on his face, here, his version of “duper’s delight”?

Keir Starmer is resorting to Nazi propaganda tactics to blacken the name of his immediate forerunner as Labour leader – but it won’t work.

Starmer’s chosen ploy is known as “The Big Lie” – repeating a known falsehood time and again until a majority of people come to believe it. The lie in this case is that Jeremy Corbyn caused Labour’s funding crisis.

When Mr Corbyn’s term as party leader ended, Labour had £13 million in the bank – and that was after running an expensive general election campaign in 2019.

Starmer squandered this money – most prominently on silly legal battles connected with his fabrications of anti-Semitism among party members.

We know this, but it seems the current Labour leader is hoping that if he keeps reviving his lie, people will start to believe him.

To boost his lie, it seems Starmer is now saying Corbyn torpedoed Labour’s finances by turning away rich donors.

But he should know that a lie won’t be strengthened with another lie – and the new claim isn’t true either:

Lies like this make Labour unelectable.

We already have a government headed by a man who is on the record saying he lies – and blunders – so often because he hopes people will forget the last one when the next one happens.

We don’t need to replace it with a government headed by another liar, which is what Starmer is.

The UK needs a government of integrity, led by individuals who genuinely want to build prosperity for the majority of citizens.

We won’t get it under Keir Starmer.

Source: Starmer tries to blame Corbyn for party’s financial collapse – but even in big donors, Corbyn beat him – SKWAWKBOX

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Court challenge win over Sarah Everard vigil raises questions about authorities

Heavy-handed: after the Met Police said it would be illegal to stage a socially-distanced vigil under lockdown conditions, organised by Reclaim These Street, an impromptu event happened instead – leading to heavy criticism of the same force for the brutal way it was seen to put down protesters.

Decisions by the Metropolitan Police that discouraged organisers from holding a vigil for Sarah Everard were against the law, according to High Court judges.

Police statements that Covid-19 regulations at the time meant holding the vigil would be unlawful, and had a “chilling” effect, contributing to the decision to cancel the vigil (an impromptu event was then put down by police with what some have described as brutal force).

None of the force’s decisions was in accordance with the law; evidence showed that the force failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.

That’s a victory for justice. But the High Court had previously refused to declare that any ban on outdoor gatherings under the coronavirus regulations at the time was “subject to the right to protest” – or to declare that an alleged force policy of “prohibiting all protests, irrespective of the specific circumstances” was unlawful.

And Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services concluded the police “acted appropriately” when dealing with the event.

So this raises an obvious question:

Are the High Court and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary fit for purpose if they can’t make a simple ruling in favour of the law?

In a ruling today (March 11), Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate found that the Metropolitan Police breached the rights of Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler to freedom of speech and assembly, and did not assess the potential risk to public health:

Reclaim These Streets (RTS) proposed a socially-distanced vigil for the 33-year-old, who was murdered by former Met officer Wayne Couzens, near to where she went missing in Clapham, south London, in March last year.

The four women who founded RTS and planned the vigil brought a legal challenge against the force over its handling of the event, which was also intended to be a protest about violence against women.

They withdrew from organising the vigil after being told by the force they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution if the event went ahead, and a spontaneous vigil and protest took place instead.

The policing of the spontaneous vigil that took place drew criticism from across the political spectrum after women were handcuffed on the ground and led away by officers.

Summarising the decision, Lord Justice Warby said:

“The relevant decisions of the (Met) were to make statements at meetings, in letters, and in a press statement, to the effect that the Covid-19 regulations in force at the time meant that holding the vigil would be unlawful.

“Those statements interfered with the claimants’ rights because each had a ‘chilling effect’ and made at least some causal contribution to the decision to cancel the vigil.

“None of the (force’s) decisions was in accordance with the law; the evidence showed that the (force) failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.”

If Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate could see this evidence and act upon it, there’s no reason other High Court judges could not do the same – and certainly no reason Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – which should specialise in the law as it applies to the police – couldn’t.

Why did they make the wrong call, then?

And what will be done to correct what are clearly faults in the attitude of the people who made the wrong decisions?

It costs a fortune to take a case to the High Court; these organisations have a duty to the public to get their decisions right first time.

Sadly, experience suggests to This Writer that the usual action will be taken: nothing at all.

Source: Sarah Everard vigil organisers win High Court challenge against Met Police – upday News UK

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#HighCourt decision on #Assange extradition set to be announced

Protest: you can tell the strength of public feeling in support of Julian Assange from this image – taken at Julian Assange’s last High Court appearance in December.

A High Court judge is to announce whether Julian Assange will be permitted to appeal against a decision to extradite him to the United States.

The decision will be handed down at 10.45am.

According to Wikileaks, the judgment will go one of two ways.

It may certify that points of law raised by Assange to prevent the extradition are of general public importance and give him permission to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Or it could deny him a certificate, meaning the extradition order will pass to Home Secretary Priti Patel, who will have the power to personally authorise – or deny – the extradition.

Details of the case and the issues it raises are available here.

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Another #DWP bid to deprive severely #disabled people of #benefits crushed by the courts

Therese Coffey: her Universal Credit rules discriminate against severely disabled people who she should be protecting. Rather than admit that it is wrong, she insists on wasting public money defending the indefensible in the courts.

Two severely disabled men have won a legal challenge after the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) failed to provide enough in transitional payments to protect them and others as they moved to Universal Credit.

A High Court judge found that the DWP discriminated against the pair, known as TP and AR, by refusing to compensate them the full difference between the payments they received on legacy benefits and UC payments in an area where it had already been rolled out – around £180 per month.

The DWP gave evidence that a ruling like this will affect up to 50,000 people, it will cost up to £150 million and take six years to put right the underpayments.

The ruling is the fourth in favour of TP and AR, who began their legal campaign after they suffered a severe drop in income in 2016 and 2017 as a result of house moves to areas where UC was in operation. Previously they had each received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).

Despite rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, the DWP refused to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss they had suffered of around £180.

Instead it paid just £120 a month, compensating for the loss of SDP and not EDP.

The SDP Gateway was introduced in 2019 to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto UC outside of a managed migration process until January 2021. Outside of that period, disabled people in receipt of both SDP and EDP who experience a so-called ‘trigger event’ (certain changes in circumstances), such as a move into a UC area, experienced a sudden severe loss of income. They are known as ‘SDP natural migrants’.

The judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the Court has given detailed consideration to claims under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults who ‘naturally’ migrated to Universal Credit.

Once again, the Court concluded that Therese Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to show an objective and reasonable justification for the different treatment of people in TP and AR’s position.

The Court found that the Secretary of State’s arguments and evidence were largely the same as in the earlier cases and, in spite of the outcome and detailed findings in the previous cases, her evidence on key points was very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate.

The Secretary of State claimed that something significant had changed, but the Court repeatedly emphasised that the essential differences in treatment remained the same and that neither legislative changes nor temporary Covid-related support changed the analysis.

The court held that the Universal Credit regulations unlawfully discriminate against TP and AR by failing to cover the loss of EDP when providing transitional payments.

UC therefore treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP who did not experience a ‘trigger event’ compelling them to claim UC, and legacy benefit claimants entitled to UC who experienced a ‘trigger event’ on or after January 16, 2019, and before January 27, 2021 (the period in which the Gateway was in place).

Mr Justice Holgate found:

  • The Covid-19 uplift received by UC claimants during the pandemic does not undo or make up for the disadvantage caused by the failure to cover the loss of EDP.
  • The inclusion of relief for EDP would not overpay those of the 71,000 claimants who receive SDP but not EDP. Overpayment could be avoided if legislation provided for six fixed rates of payment rather than three. “The suggestion that transitional payments in respect of EDP could not be deliverable has simply not been made out,” he said.
  • The risk that a ruling in favour of TP and AR would trigger ‘piggyback’ (similar, other) claims was not realistic.
  • The Secretary of State had not shown a reasonable relationship of proportionality between her aim of curtailing public expenditure, and the decision not to provide any element of transitional relief against the loss of EDP.

According to the DWP, in evidence it gave to the court when defending the judicial review claim, the ruling will affect up to 50,000 people and will involve sums of up to £150 million over a six-year period to put right.

The ruling is the fourth in favour of TP and AR, who began their legal campaign after they suffered a severe drop in income when they were moved on to UC in 2016 and 2017 as a result of house moves to areas where UC was in operation. Previously they had each received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).

Despite rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, the DWP still refused to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss of circa £180 they suffered and instead paid them just £120 a month, compensating for the loss of SDP and not EDP.

The SDP Gateway was introduced in 2019 to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto UC outside of a managed migration process until January 2021. Outside of that period, disabled people in receipt of both SDP and EDP who experience a so-called ‘trigger event’ (certain changes in circumstances), such as a move into a UC area, experienced a sudden severe loss of income. They are known as ‘SDP natural migrants’.

The judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the Court has given detailed consideration to claims under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults who ‘naturally’ migrated to Universal Credit.

Once again, the Court concluded that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to show an objective and reasonable justification for the differential treatment of those in TP and AR’s position. The Court found that to a large extent the Secretary of State’s arguments and evidence were the same as in the earlier cases.[1] In spite of the outcome and detailed findings in the previous cases, the Defendant’s evidence on key points was very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate.[2] Notwithstanding the Secretary of State’s continued claims that something significant had changed, the Court repeatedly emphasised that the essential differences in treatment remained the same and that neither legislative changes nor temporary Covid-related support changed the analysis.[3]

The court held that Regulation 63 and Schedule 2 of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 unlawfully discriminate against TP and AR by failing to cover the loss of EDP when providing transitional payments. It thereby treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than (1) legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP who did not experience a ‘trigger event’ compelling them to claim UC, and (2) legacy benefit claimants entitled to UC who experienced a ‘trigger event’ on or after 16 January 2019 and before 27 January 2021 (during the period in which the Gateway was in place).

Mr Justice Holgate found:

  • The Covid-19 uplift received by UC claimants during the pandemic does not undo or make up for the disadvantage caused by the failure to cover the loss of EDP.
  • The inclusion of relief for EDP would not overpay those of the 71,000 claimants who receive SDP but not EDP. Overpayment could be avoided if legislation provided for six fixed rates of payment rather than three. “The suggestion that transitional payments in respect of EDP could not be deliverable has simply not been made out,” he said.
  • The risk that a ruling in favour of TP and AR would trigger ‘piggyback’ (similar, other) claims was not realistic.
  • The Secretary of State had not shown a reasonable relationship of proportionality between her aim of curtailing public expenditure, and the decision not to provide any element of transitional relief against the loss of EDP.

“I am not satisfied … that the broad aims of promoting phased transition, curtailing public expenditure or administrative efficiency required the denial of transitional relief against the loss of EDP for SDP natural migrants,” he said.

“A fair balance has not been struck between the severity of the effects of the measure under challenge … and the contribution that that measure makes to the achievement of the [Secretary of State’s] aims.”

He said there was stronger evidence to conclude this “where there is no connection between the triggering event, the move to a home in a different local authority area, and any rational assessment of the disability needs of a severely disabled claimant.”

The judgment also found in favour of claimants AB and F, a disabled mother and child, saying that the discrimination they suffered “is manifestly without reasonable foundation”.

The DWP’s failure to provide transitional protection against the loss of the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit was found to constitute unlawful discrimination.

It treated AB and F less favourably than legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP and the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit who have not experienced a trigger event compelling them to claim UC.

It also treated them less favourably than legacy benefit claimants who were entitled to SDP and the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit who experienced a trigger event whilst the SDP gateway was in place.

“I am relieved that the judge agrees that the DWP treated us differently than other severely disabled benefits claimants and that it was wrong to do so,” said TP.

“The past six years have been immensely stressful as I have struggled to get by on a lower income. I just hope that the DWP will put all of this right as soon as possible so that those of us who have been badly affected by this unfair policy can get on with our lives.”

AR added: “It should never have been the case that disabled people entitled to the severe and enhanced disability premiums were suddenly deprived of the equivalent sum when they found themselves transferred onto Universal Credit.

“The policy has caused me and others serious hardship and I am glad that the court has seen the sense in our argument. Hopefully we will be ‘fourth time lucky’ and finally have reached the end of the road fighting this unfair policy.”

Their solicitor, Tessa Gregory, said she could not understand why the DWP was still dragging the affair out in the courts.

“Following the three previous findings of unlawful discrimination, the DWP should have ensured our clients were not losing out on severe and enhanced disability payments.

“Instead, after each judgment the DWP has made further attempts to short-change this group of highly vulnerable claimants who faced a cliff edge loss of income when none of their disability needs has changed.

“Our clients hope that this judgment marks the end of the road and that the DWP will stop wasting money on legal fees and get on with protecting the vulnerable.”

Source: Severely disabled benefits claimants TP and AR win legal challenge over loss of income caused by move on to Universal Credit | Leigh Day

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